Heart of Louisiana: Alexandria Museum of Art

Updated: Sep. 3, 2019 at 8:09 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (WVUE) - For years, the Alexandria Museum of Art has been acquiring new pieces, not only from some of the state’s better known artists, but also art from students and their instructors.

Morris Taft Thomas, a retired educator, is one of the artists featured in an exhibition at the museum. Thomas said he believes this central Louisiana city is becoming an art mecca.

“And it’s steadily growing,” Thomas said. “I see potential in it and I see growth all over the city.”

The museum exhibit looks at the connected visions of Louisiana artists. Aside from the fact that these artists are from Louisiana, their common traits are deeper, according to Megan Valentine, the museum’s curator.

“Many of them did different styles of art, they all had associations with a number of other artists. They educated, they worked together. They studied with some of them,” Valentine said. “We’re trying to represent a lot of our population who probably haven’t seen themselves in the museum before.”

Leslie Elliotsmith is also a Louisiana artist and educator, who describes her creations as narrative and often dealing with women.

“When you’re looking at a piece of artwork, and at first you might disregard it, just a look a little harder. There’s something in a piece of artwork that the artist is trying to tell you," Smith said. “Life is not being real easy right now. So, the idea here is that time is the element you need to get control of.”

Some of the earliest pieces in this exhibit date from the late 19th century.

“Ellsworth and William Woodward came to New Orleans to teach at Tulane, and they helped to develop and begin the Newcomb school. They were kind of the origins of a lot of the art movement in Louisiana," Valentine said.

From the Newcomb school came Newcomb pottery, created by female students at the Uptown New Orleans campus.

“It allowed the women who were studying at Newcomb to enhance their artistic ability of glazing and painting these designs onto pottery,” Valentine said.

The exhibit features works from students at most of Louisiana’s universities, and art from their teachers and other’s who influenced those creations.

“There’s a certain consistency that goes through if you can show how the person came to the state, developed their art, and the influences they’ve had on other students,” Elliotsmith said.

“If you’re going to do something, don’t be good. Be the best you can be. And that’s the way I see life,” Thomas said.

And those life experiences help shape an artist’s creations, sometimes thing that we can all relate to.

The art museum is located on the bank of the Red River in downtown Alexandria. It’s open Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information, go to their website.

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