Quiet Spirit, Skillful Hand: The Graphic Work of Clare Leighton
Mint Museum RANDOLPH
May 17 2008-Sep 14 2008
/ A collection of woodcuts, drawings and watercolors from artist-illstrator Clare Leighton. focusing on the legacy she created within her art, writing and commitment to the field of printmaking.
In September 2004, The Mint Museums received a collection by artist-illustrator Clare Leighton (1898-1989) including more than 180 woodcuts, drawings and watercolors. Donated by Charlotte collector Gabby Pratt, the collection also includes a complete set of Wedgwood plates, titled New England Industries and a collection of books relating to Leighton's career as an artist and writer. Leighton, a prominent figure in the revival of wood engraving and illustration in Great Britain and the U.S., illustrated her own writing as well as classic and contemporary literature.
Born to an artistic family, Leighton studied wood engraving in Great Britain before moving to the U.S. during World War II. Settling first in Baltimore, she moved to Chapel Hill in 1943 and served as a visiting art lecturer at Duke University from 1943-1945. During her career, she wrote 15 books and created more than 700 prints. The natural world and her surroundings were a continuous source of inspiration. Her timeless images reveal an abiding interest in and respect for the earth and those who tend it, advocating the virtue of hard labor and the rhythms of nature. On the surface, her subjects are simple working people -- the ploughman, the washerwoman, the net mender, the cotton picker -- but Leighton portrays them and their labor with dignity and reverence.
Throughout her career, Leighton faced the challenges of bias against not only her gender but also the validity of wood engraving illustration as a legitimate means of artistic expression. Even against such challenges, Leighton persevered and strove to make her art original statements of spirit and aesthetic expression. Quiet Spirit, Skillful Hand will focus on the legacy she created within her art, her writing and her commitment to the field of printmaking. An illustrated catalogue with three scholarly essays will accompany the exhibit.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.
Additional grant funding is provided by the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.