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Augusta, GA
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Morris Museum of Art: Celebrating Southern Art and Culture
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Augusta, GA 30901-0100
Phone: 706-724-7501
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Vietnam Transformed: The Art of Richard J. Olsen
November 9, 2019 - February 16, 2020
Richard J. Olsen, Wall CCXLIIIa(243a) West Wall, 2016. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1935, Richard J. Olsen began his journey in art in his youth. He attended the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in 1958 and a master of fine arts degree (with a concentration in painting and printmaking) in 1966.

He was a child during World War II and a teenager during the Korean War. At Wisconsin he signed up for ROTC, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, and he graduated, a commissioned officer, at the beginning of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. He became a helicopter pilot, serving tours of duty over the next few years in Vietnam. He returned to school on the completion of his service obligation to get his graduate degree.

In 1969 he joined the faculty of what has become the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia, Athens, as an instructor. Over the years, he rose through the ranks, first as an assistant professor (1973–1978) and associate professor (1978–1994), before being named a full professor. He held the General Sandy Beaver Teaching Professorship from 1998 until his retirement in 2001, when he was named professor of art emeritus.

Since 1965 his work has been included by invitation in more than one hundred group exhibitions and has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions. It is included in public, private, and corporate collections around the world. He is the recipient of many honors and awards.

The exhibition Vietnam Transformed, organized by guest curators Hathia and Andrew Hayes, is rich with allegory, symbolism, and allusion, and comes out of Olsen’s Wall Series. Begun in 1976 the series now includes more than two hundred paintings, conceived and executed on a monumental scale.

His work is as much concerned with process as product, and, as he has noted, “there is always the ‘trying to make a painting’ element in it.”

The Eugene Fleischer Collection of Studio Art Glass
September 21, 2019 - December 31, 2020

The history of the studio art glass movement in America is relatively brief. Its origins can be pinpointed precisely to two workshops conducted by ceramist Harvey Littleton, who was interested in the potential of glass as an artistic medium, and chemist and engineer Dominick Labino held at the Toldeo Museum of Art in 1962. Littleton had envisioned a more or less traditional studio space in which individual artists could design and execute their own finished works of art in glass on a small scale. Labino was instrumental in the design and manufacture of a small furnace in which glass could be melted, fused, and fashioned into art. (Up until then, most glass artwork—such as that of Louis Comfort Tiffany—was created by a designer but executed in industrial manufacturing settings.) After those workshops, Littleton returned to the University of Wisconsin, where he taught, and started a glass program within the school’s Ceramics Department. Some of his earliest students—Dale Chihuly, Marvin Lipofsky, and Fritz Dreisbach—became the pioneers of the modern movement.

Despite its humble origins, the studio glass movement is arguably one of the most important advancements in the world of contemporary art. Many of the most important artists of the studio glass movement are represented in the remarkable collection that was assembled by the late Eugene Fleischer. A man of many enthusiasms (and almost as many collections), he pursued the best examples by the best glass artists with ardor and energy and built an important collection that he bequeathed to the Morris Museum of Art. Much of it is on display in the museum’s newest permanent collection gallery, beginning in late September.

David Driskell: Artist and Scholar of the African American Experience
October 10, 2019 - January 19, 2020

David Driskell, born in Eatonton, Georgia, in 1931, earned an undergraduate degree in art from Howard University in 1955. He earned a master of fine arts degree from the Catholic University of America in 1962 before undertaking further postgraduate study in art history. Trained as a painter, he works primarily in collage, mixed media, and printmaking.

He began his teaching career at Talladega College in 1955 and later taught at Howard and Fisk Universities before joining the faculty of the Department of Art at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1977. He served as its chairperson from 1978 to 1983. In 1995 he was named Distinguished University Professor of Art and taught until his retirement in 1998, when he was named an emeritus professor. In 2001 the University established the David C. Driskell Center to honor his many accomplishments and his important role in preserving the rich heritage of African American visual art and culture.

While teaching, he also maintained a very active career as an exhibiting artist, curator, collector, art administrator, and art consultant. His work is included in museum collections around the world. He has lectured widely and has written five books on African American art. (He is the coauthor of four others.) He has had more than forty catalogs published for exhibitions he organized.

He is the recipient of many honors and awards, including thirteen honorary doctorates and the National Humanities Medal. His biography David C. Driskell: Artist and Scholar, by Dr. Julie McGee, was published in 2006 by Pomegranate.

The exhibition was assembled from the collections of the artist and the Morris Museum of Art.

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