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New Season Begins at Taubman for Former Wilson Museum Director

Amy Moorefield
Taubman Deputy Director of Exhibitions Amy Moorefield

Amy Moorefield embarks on a new venture September 16th as the deputy director of exhibitions at the Taubman Museum of Art. Hired by first year executive director Della Watkins, Moorefield is just one member of a retooled staff at the Taubman, which extends all the way to a new service (Blue Ridge Catering) to run Norah’s Café.

Moorefield had been the director of the Eleanor D Wilson Museum on the Hollins University campus and will continue to help out at the Wilson for a while as it transitions to a new director and a new season of exhibitions.

Moorefield likes to use a theme as she assembles exhibition seasons; last year it revolved around artists that used simple materials, perhaps in “innovative and often contradictory ways.”

This year all the exhibitions will revolve around artists that explore the notion of what “home” means to them; “A sense of place and belonging,” said Moorefield. “These artists and exhibitions are really touching on that core topic. I think personally it’s a very exciting topic to explore.”

From Oct. 7-Dec. 7, artist Sue Johnson is in the spotlight with American Dreamscape: Seeing the American Dream through Objects. Johnson has a fascination for 1950‘s-era materials, which she uses as inspiration. “She’s very much interested in how we collect and archive what’s important to us in the past,” said Moorefield. A 10-foot tall, 1950’s dollhouse will be created for the exhibit at the Wilson (hollins.edu/museum).  The post WWII boom helped fuel American consumerism in the 50’s.

American consumerism indeed is a focal point of the exhibition. Johnson, a professor at St. Mary’s College as well, will lecture on October 3 after she helps install the exhibit. Later on an anthropologist will also lecture during the exhibit, talking about how people adorn themselves and their homes.

From Jan. 9-March 1, “Home Sweet Home” is the attraction, featuring a number of local artists: Betty Branch, Nan Mahone, Genesis Chapman, Christine Carr, etc. “I wanted to curate this exhibition again around the central theme of home and really focus on artists whose core tenets and work explores those topics,” said Moorefield. It’s a “kitchen sink” exhibition with all sorts of art on display, even an artist (Michael Burch Pierce) who will embroider a portrait freehand while a subject poses for him. Burch Pierce made Christmas decorations for the Obama White House several years ago.

Moorefield relocated with her family to Roanoke from Richmond (where she worked at Virginia Commonwealth University in a gallery) five years ago. The Taubman Museum, then being built, helped convince her that this was “a hotbed for creativity. Even during my interview I was embraced by the artistic community.” Moorefield called the Taubman design “aggressive,” a design, of course, that some still do not like.

From March 20-April 19, Ben Grasso will show off large-scale paintings; the Brooklyn, NY based artist is also the Frances Neiderer Artist in Residence at Hollins next spring. “He focuses on homes and houses…where they are in the process of being taken apart. Sort of floating in space,” noted Moorefield.

Grasso will teach a course and will have a studio on campus as well. “I think he’ll bring a rich perspective [to his exhibit].” At the same time an exhibit from the Wilson’s permanent collection, “Landscapes,” will include local works and Japanese prints, exploring a variety of terrains. During her tenure at the Wilson, Moorefield helped add 300 new works to the permanent collection, which numbers around 2000. A recent gift of 150 photographs taken by Andy Warhol is now owned by the Wilson, Ssme of them were on exhibit last summer.

Also from March 20-April 19, Kris Iden will marry poetry with visual art, tracking memories from a particular location. She’ll teach a community workshop on the subject, as well. From May 13-May 25, Hollins seniors get to show off their work; an exhibition of work from Hollins Alumna Susan Seidle Cofer (class of ’64) follows from May 29-Sept 13.

Going forward Moorefield’s main focus will be her new role at the Taubman, which she terms “a cultural jewel for this community.” She knew Della Watkins previously. “I’m very excited about this opportunity [to be] a team leader and oversee the exhibition program.” She will work with adjunct curators and “a remarkable exhibition staff – very talented. I think there is great potential in terms of exhibition programming.”

By Gene Marrano

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