The Springville Art Museum’s latest exhibit, the American Collection, is as diverse in styles and artists as America is in cultures and regional personalities. At the exhibit’s core are statues of America’s great Emancipator himself, Abraham Lincoln. The pieces range from life-size statues of a young Lincoln to a large bust of him. Each Lincoln piece was created by artists from right here in Utah.
Not only did these works highlight the great man himself, but also the talent of Utahans from all around the state.
This exhibit was not just about Lincoln but about America herself. With the help of associate curator Jessica Weiss, my attention was navigated all around the perimeter of the showcase. There we found paintings from all over the country, produced at various points in the 20th century.
All of the paintings share the common theme of what life is like for Americans.
Represented were paintings of Native Americans in the Southwest, New Englanders tackling tempests at sea and Middle American farmers working hard to earn their living.
One work, New Americans, by Nicholas Britsky really stands out. As a more contemporary piece, it illustrates the condition of immigrants coming to this strange new world. In their traditional clothes, they stand against a drab grey wall and gaze upon the massive concrete jungle that greeted so many new Americans in centuries past.
Another painting, Cat Goddess, seemed to depict a less common sort of American. In it, we see a finely dressed woman accompanied by her feline friends. It seems to symbolize the wealthy, privileged class here in America.
The layout of the exhibit, orchestrated by Museum Director Dr. Vern Swanson and Nicole Romney, is impressive. All around the perimeter of the exhibit were vistas of America and Americans representing all of us from sea to shining sea, and at center was the man whose leadership kept it all together.
The exhibit will continue until April 5, so art lovers and Americans alike should take a trip down to Springville and see what it truly means to be an American.