abstract painting on newspaper

Looking Back, Looking Forward: Highlights from St. Lawrence University’s Permanent Collection

Willem de Kooning, untitled mixed media painting, 1972, SLU 80.416

October 18 to December 9, 2021

Gallery talk with Akwesasne Mohawk artist Iakonikoniriiosta, Saturday, December 4, at 1:00 p.m.

To mark the 2021 inauguration of Kathryn A. Morris as St. Lawrence University’s 19th president, the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery presents Looking Back, Looking Forward, an exhibition of selected highlights from the permanent collection. Works by notable Western artists of the past 75 years are shown alongside recent acquisitions by women and BIPOC artists that are intended to diversify the collection.

“Looking back” features a snapshot “who’s who” of the Western art historical canon with one-of-a-kind drawings and paintings by 20th-century artists Milton Avery, Isabel Bishop, Willem de Kooning, Paul Klee, Reginald Marsh, Henry Moore, and David Smith. Representing a range of modernist genres from figurative drawing and landscape painting to pure abstraction, many of the works have been recently reframed to meet archival museum standards.

ceramic vessel in outdoor setting

Natasha Smoke Santiago, Water Pollution, the Problem and the Protectors, 2020,
unglazed hand-built ceramic vessel, SLU 2020.41

“Looking forward” showcases ceramic vessels by regional Akwesasne Mohawk artists Katsitsionni Fox and Natasha Smoke Santiago, as well as a large quilt by Iakonikonriiosta illustrating the Haudenosaunee Creation Story. In addition, paintings by six Mexican indigenous artists in the Kjoaetzen Colectivo depict aspects of the Mazatec agricultural calendar with a particular emphasis on the cultural importance of corn in order to nurture and protect ancestral wisdom. A selection of Japanese-style mokuhanga water-based prints by contemporary women artists is also featured in the exhibition.

Although St. Lawrence University’s history of collecting art objects and cultural artifacts dates to the early 1900s, the focus of more contemporary acquisitions is geared specifically toward teaching and research in an undergraduate, liberal arts environment. Students, faculty, and staff from across campus make regular use of the permanent collection and rotating exhibitions for classroom discussions, writing assignments, oral presentations, and independent study projects. Contact brushgallery@stlawu.edu to learn more.