February 17, 2015

Cornell Fine Arts Museum

When I was a college student I minored in Art History and Fine Arts. Being that my major was Graphic Design, I suppose you could easily conclude that I really love art. In one of my art history courses I wrote a paper and made a presentation on artist Kara Walker. She is, in a nutshell, a bad ass contemporary African American artist. Her best-known work is black paper silhouettes that explore race, culture, gender, sexuality, and identity.

Walker's work has been shown all over the world, so imagine my surprise when I saw a collection of her prints being shown at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. The exhibit on display is called Harper's Pictoral History of the Civil War (Annotated). In it, Walker has taken images from the book of Civil War illustrations and overlaid black silhouettes of stereotypical and exaggerated African Americans that challenge the racial history of the United States. I love her art and the way it takes stereotypes and pushes them even further - there are no boundaries.

I spent a good amount of time examining each of the 15 prints in the exhibit and enjoyed perusing Walker's books at a reading station the museum set up inside. There are prints from the Harper's books as well as some of the actual books in a case.

In addition to the Kara Walker exhibit, CFAM had a collection of photographs from Winter Park photographer Peter Schreyer called Returning Home. Schreyer is also the Executive Director of Creadle School of Art and the founder of Hannibal Square Heritage Center. I had the pleasure of meeting Schreyer last year while discussing an exhibition for my own museum and loved seeing his photos of Switzerland and rural Winter Park.

There is quite a bit inside this museum and it really blew me away. I saw Kara Walker prints, a Roman sarcophagus, a Thomas Moran painting, and a wonderful photography exhibit, all in one visit. It was unexpected, and I think that's what I liked most about it. As if all that wasn't enough, this museum is absolutely free to visit. Zero dollars, thanks to the generosity of a Rollins College graduate, which is where CFAM is located. If you're a local, or even just visiting, you should do yourself a favor and spend a few hours there.

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