Connections were discovered among the works of art in "Visual Conversations: Looking and Listening," all from the museum’s collection. Curator Robert Bridges selected particular works for their individual expression and their dialogues with one another. The works sparked visual associations that transcended time and place, offering new possibilities and relationships.
Some of the artists were contemporaries, sharing the same influences, aware of one another’s work, and drawing inspiration from each other. In several cases the artists studied with two renowned art teachers of the 20th century—William Merritt Chase and Hans Hofmann.
Although separated by generations and diverse backgrounds, several of the artists dealt with similar themes. Some advance representational art and others, abstraction. Still other artists—often self-taught, such as some of the Appalachian folk artists—spoke directly from their hearts, their creative expressions unencumbered by the art establishment.
While the connections among the different artists are important, the most meaningful conversation takes place between you, the viewer, and a particular work of art as you personally experience the communicative power of art.
Six different sections in the exhibition—Landscapes and Nature, Portraits and People, Prints, Modernism, Regionalism and Contemporary, — offered different genres or types of art. Visitors may engage with historical and contemporary art works ranging from woodcuts, lithographs, other works on paper, and fabric, to woodcarvings, glass, metal and Plexiglas sculptures. The works were by artists from North America, including West Virginia and other parts of Appalachia, along with Asia, Africa, and Europe.