The Patient Eye
Installation in the Leeburn Gallery
The Columbus Museum, Georgia
Jonathan VanDyke curated this exhibition, featuring two of his paintings along with objects he chose from the museum's collection. The artist created a custom-made wallpaper for the space, utilizing over 600 black-and-white photocopies: no copy appears more than twice. In choosing works from the museum's collection vaults, the artist sought out objects that were rarely, if ever, on public view, displaying them in a manner that blurs the distinction between material culture and objects of art. He re-arranged the miniature furnishings inside an early 20th century dollhouse kitchen and the pieces of a wooden block set in a playful manner, bringing new meaning and life to historic objects.
Two photographs from the family albums of renowned painter Alma Thomas, which were found stuck together back-to-back, are shown here in a double-sided frame, revealing playful images of Ms. Thomas and her sister at work and at leisure. Another pair of photographs, circa 1914, were taken at the Kowaliga School, which offered vocational training for young African-Americans in the Columbus region. The pair of images reveal the same young woman lounging and posing on the school's grounds, taken perhaps minutes apart. By hanging these photographs together, the viewer has an opportunity to experience the slight passing of time as the sitter's identity is framed by the lens.
An important quilt, made by African-American quilter Angeline Pitts between 1875 and 1910, is a centerpiece of the exhibition. The quilter made use of a highly diverse range of fabrics, some of which are repeated often, while others, such as woven and pattern fabrics, appear only a few times in the Lone Star pattern, offering a material history of the time and an ingenious use of scraps. The wallpaper picks up on this theme of the scrap, showing bits and pieces of fabric, torn paper, and thread – the types of materials found in the workshop of the quilter, as well as in VanDyke's own studio, where he creates his pieced paintings.
Part of the performance and exhibition The Patient Eye, commissioned by The Columbus Museum and organized by Dr. Jonathan Frederick Walz, museum curator