“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can do as we are and not be questioned.”
– Author and Poet Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
Home. The word is laden with meaning, both positive and negative. Home can be a refuge for some, a place to flee for others, or a distant dream. Often our definition of ourselves, our understanding of the world and relationships, and our aspirations for the future are based on our experiences at home. The artists in this gallery have focused on imagery of homes and the daily domestic activities that give our lives meaning and structure.
Doris Lee (1905-1983), Afternoon Tea, c.1940, lithograph, 9 1/16 x 13 7/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1977.
Afternoon Tea, published by the Associated American Artists (AAA), depicts a country scene of three women enjoying tea on the wide comfortable porch, while a young girl with a bow in her hair cheerfully jumps rope down the sidewalk. Humans and animals peacefully coexist in this world from the chickens and cat in the foreground to the cows, horses, and birds in the surrounding environs. The tilted perspective of the table, the quick triable lines of the distant sailboats, and the skewed proportions of some of the animals reveals a preferences for simple, almost childlike execution.
American painter, printmaker, and illustrator, Doris Lee became popular in the 1930s for her quaint, nostalgic depictions of rural life in America. Her work garnered national attention and was featured on calendars, greeting cards, menus, fabric, and pottery.
Laura Knight (1877-1970), Make-Up, c.1930, etching and drypoint, 9 7/8 x 7 13/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.
This is believed to be a depiction of Lubov Tchernecheva, one of the greatest Russian ballet dancers. Tchernecheva danced with the Ballet Russes from 1911-1929, and performed at the London Coliseum for six months. British artist Laura Knight attended many performances during this time and also painted a portrait of Tchernecheva in her role as Cleopatra. This etching, completed a little later, shows the dancer at her toilette; her dramatic earrings, dark lipstick, and thick mascara complete the final touches of her look prior to taking the stage.
Knight was a pioneering female artist, producing a large body of paintings, watercolors, and prints during her long life. Though she is known for her images of women, circus performers, and gypsies, Knight also documented current events, including many scenes of World War II and concluding with an ambitious painting of the Nuremberg Trial in 1946. She was made a Dame in 1926, and elected full membership to the British Royal Academy in 1936, the first woman to do so since the eighteenth century.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860-1961), Path to the Village, no date, needlework, 9 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Bryan A. Larson, 1985.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses, nicknamed Grandma Moses, was a beloved American folk artist. Much of her life was spent working on her farm with her husband and children. Though she claimed to dislike knitting and sewing, she often entertained her friends and family by producing colorful needlework pictures. Her work often showed a nostalgic view of farm and family life, omitting tractors, wires, and other signs of industrialization.
Due to painful arthritis in her hands, Grandma Moses eventually stopping producing needlework and turned to painting.
Rose Hartwell (1861-1917), Nursery Corner, c.1910, oil on canvas, 23 3/4 x 28 1/4 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1941.
Born about fifteen years after the first pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley, Rose Hartwell was caught in the building tensions over polygamy that tore her family apart. After her father took a second wife, Rose’s mother took her ten children and left the Church. Although Hartwell married later in life and never had any children of her own, her paintings often depict family and domestic life. This scene of a mother holding her baby echoes those created by American Impressionist Mary Cassatt, particularly in its ability to present quiet interactions between a mother and child without becoming overly sentimental. THe deep red wallpaper, balanced by the light green of the door and cradle show the influence of Hartwell’s teacher, Spanish colorist Claudio Castelucho.
The Brigham Young University Museum of Art is honored to own a large collection of work by Rose Hartwell. Three of her works are included in this exhibition and two others are on exhibition in Becoming America.
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Washday on the Plains, 1938, oil on canvas, 42 x 94 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of the Teichert Family Collection, 1997.
From her modest home in Wyoming, Teichert produced a prolific number of paintings that celebrate the saga of western settlement and the heritage of her religious faith. Washday on the Plains show industrious pioneer women working together. They exude strength, order, and harmony in their collective labor—underscoring the vital role of women in the pioneers’ trek to the Mountain West.
She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and at the Art Students League in New York City. During Teichert’s time in New York, her teacher American artist Robert Henri encouraged her to paint the “Mormon story.” She boldly took up this commission, painting many scenes from the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Ella Peacock (1905-1999), Spring City, c.1971, oil on canvas, 24 1/8 x 18 1/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1987.
Over the years, Spring City, Utah has been home to many artists, creating a thriving community of potters, sculptors, and painters. Ella Peacock was one of those artists, having moved to Spring City after discovering the area during visits to the West. Devoted to depicting western America, she reveled in exploring the color, line, and shape of her rural environs.
This painting celebrates the daily labor of life in Spring City. The two figures work earnestly, without pretense, in a landscape that Peacock painted with subdued colors and relaxed brushstrokes. The artist remained in Spring City for almost thirty years, passing away at age 93. This work, a culmination of her love and skills, is dedicated to her final hometown.
Florence Ware (1891-1972), Young Woman with Fruit, c.1930, oil on canvas, 23 13/16 x 30 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Edward Girard and Ruth Hale, 2008.
A Utah native, Florence Ware exhibited artistic talent from an early age. Born to a prestigious family in Salt Lake City, she was privately tutored in music, ballet, and the arts. After graduating from the Art Institute of Chicago, she worked professionally as a painter, illustrator, costume designer, muralist, and interior designer for many years. Ware was fascinated by color and light, and loved creating scenes of humans in nature. This love is brilliantly shown in this piece, as her vibrant colors leap from the canvas and the textured brushwork infuses the work with life.
Ware painted for the Works Progress Administration creating murals during the Great Depression. One of her murals can be seen at Kingsbury Hall on the University of Utah campus. After an 18-month tour of Europe and the Near East, she returned to Utah and become the first President of the Association of Utah Artists in 1940. She taught at the University of Utah for 25 years.
Rebecca Campbell (b.1971), Two -Year Supply: Clean, 2016, Windex, tin plated steel, glass, wood, digital projection, 23 13/16 x 30 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art.
These disarmingly colorful glass jars are filled with gallons of Windex. This impressive array, made more compelling through the projected images that dance across its glimmering surface, is more than a creative installation. The cleaning agent references traditionally feminine tasks of domesticity and the never-ending job of keeping things clean, while the “two-year supply” reference of the title points to a Latter-day Saint tradition of preparing food and goods for unknown difficulties ahead. The beauty of the repeated blue jars forces viewers to simultaneously see them as a formal artwork, considered for its aesthetic appeal, and also a deeply philosophical work, encouraging us to ponder social expectations that can both harm and heal. Campbell was inspired by her mother’s own obsession with meticulous cleaning as a kind of cathartic experience and a way to feel in control when life seemed precarious and unknown.
Campbell received her MFA in painting and drawing from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, and currently is an assistant professor at California State University, Fullerton. The BYU Museum of Art dedicated an exhibition to her work, Rebecca Campbell: The Potato Eaters, in 2016.
Marguerite S. Pearson (1898-1978), The Old Pine Clock, no date, oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 30 1/4 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art.
After a bout with polio at age 16, American artist Marguerite Stuber Pearson was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She refused to be hindered by her disability, working as an illustrator for newspapers and magazines before becoming a full-time artist. Pearson often chose to depict women in everyday domestic settings.
The Old Pine Clock depicts a well-dressed, red-headed woman standing by the family clock, perhaps to wind it. She pauses, likely distracted by something happening beyond the window or lost in her own thoughts. Genre scenes like this of women reading, sewing, playing musical instruments, and going about simple household tasks celebrate the daily life of women.
Dorothy Weir Young (1890-1947), Ladies at Dinner, c.1930, oil on canvas on board, 26 7/8 x 31 7/8 x 1/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.
Like her father, American Impressionist Julian Alden Weir, Dorothy Weir Young was an artist. This painting is set in the dining room of the Weir farmhouse in Branchville, Connecticut, where the family spent summers. On the wall hang two portraits by Julian, one of his father Robert Walter Weir (Dorothy’s grandfather) and the other of his wife Anna (Dorothy’s mother). Dorothy focused her artistic output on portraits, often of friends and family, and domestic scenes, like Ladies at Dinner. Although the five women painted here have not been identified, there is a sense of familiarity and comfort in this gathering of women.
In 1931, Dorothy Weir married the artist Mahonri Young, grandson of Brigham Young. Mahonri outlived Dorothy, and after his death, his art collection, along with Dorothy’s, came to Brigham Young University in 1959. Dorothy’s collection included many of her father’s works and much of his art collection. The large Weir and Young holdings form the core of the Brigham Young University Museum of Art’s collection.
Dorothy Weir Young (1890-1947), Seated Girl Reading Newspaper, c.1930, oil on canvas, 29 15/16 x 27 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.
The subject of women reading has long been a popular theme in art history. Dorothy Weir Young painted several versions of women reading, including this one, which features a seated woman reading a daily newspaper. Engrossed in current events, she slouches slightly in her chair, seemingly unconcerned or unaware of anything else happening around her. The publication is not a prop meant to superficially suggest intelligence, instead it demonstrates that she is fully immersed in the words on the page.
Jessie Bone Charman (1895-1986), The John Davis Farm, c.1950, watercolor, 21 5/16 x 26 1/4 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1976.
American artist Jessie Bone Charman lived in upstate New York and specialized in watercolor paintings of landscapes, still lifes, and outdoor scenes. A farm landscape with rolling hills and trees suggests the rural landscape of New York that captured Charman’s attention. The two wood piles in the foreground alludes to the industry of the farm owners, preparing for the cold winter months in the future.
Marie A. Hull (1890-1980), March in Mississippi, c.1930, watercolor, 21 3/4 x 27 7/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1933.
Known as one of Mississippi’s most beloved artists, Marie Hull’s first love was not art, but music. After graduating with a college degree in piano performance, she started private art lessons and realized she “wanted to paint more than anything else.” Hull enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where her mother initially accompanied her as a chaperone. From Pennsylvania, Hull would go on to study at the prestigious Art Students League in New York. Hull primarily drew inspiration from her surroundings in Mississippi, such as this scene of African-American women hanging laundry and performing daily tasks on a spring day. She was nationally recognized and praised extensively for her work during her lifetime.
Remembering her lack of access to art training as a child, upon completion of her own schooling Hull opened her home to teach private students. Her work as an artist and teacher in the South inspired hundreds to pursue their own artistic path. Hull continued to create works until her death at the age of 90.
Verla Birrell (1903-2001), Mt. Fuego from Village in Guatemala, no date, watercolor, 13 3/8 x 19 15/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art.
Known for her skill as a watercolorist, Birrell produced landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes of everyday life. She traveled extensively,
particularly in Europe and South America. In 1950, she led tours in Mexico and Guatemala. This Guatemalan scene of women carrying laundry and baskets on their heads as they traverse a steep hill was inspired by one of her visits. Despite the normalcy of their daily tasks, in the background thick smoke billows from Mt. Fuego, one of the most active volcanoes in Central America, underscoring the contented scene with the ever-present threat of destruction.
Dr. Verla Birrell was insatiably curious, receiving numerous degrees in a variety of fields and publishing books on textiles, archeology, and religion. She acquired a degree in art from the University of Utah, an M.F.A. from Claremont College in California, and later a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Utah. From 1938-48, Birrell taught art classes at BYU and from 1948-1972 she taught art and home economics at the University of Utah.
Helen Smith (1871-1954), Be It Ever So Humble, 1936, watercolor, 16 1/8 x 19 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of A. Merlin Steed and Alice W. Steed Collection.
Helen Smith was a talented watercolorist and excelled at creating remarkable details, a difficult feat in watercolor. After training in Boston and at the Milwaukee Art Institute, Smith moved with her husband to Balboa Island in California. On the West Coast, Smith continued her passion for art, and took up studying under fellow artists Anna Hills, Millard Sheets, and Arthur Beaumont. These artists inspired and learned from one another, and Smith became particularly adept at strong coloration, as shown beautifully in this piece. Many of her paintings depict harbor scenes of Balboa Island and Newport Beach, one of which is also included in this exhibition. Smith was drawn to simple moments of daily life, such as this scene of women and children working in front of a humble home.
Rose Hartwell (1861-1917), Friendly Entrance, c.1905, oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 19 5/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1941.
In her early twenties, Utah artist Rose Hartwell began studying art under two well-established local artists, J.T. Harwood and J. Willard Clawson. With their encouragement, she traveled to Paris to study at the Académie Julian, a progressive art school that was the first to enroll female students. After a trip to Italy, she returned to Paris and in 1903, entered her first painting in the Paris Salon. Hartwell, along with Mary Teasdel, Harriet Harwood, and Myra Louise Sawyer, was part of the first generation of Utah women to study painting abroad.
While in France, Hartwell and Myra Sawyer traveled up to Giverny and observed Claude Monet painting. Hartwell’s familiarity with the loose brushstroke of Impressionist painters as well as their love of plein air, or outdoor, painting can be seen in The Friendly Entrance. This tidy blue and white house, with well cared for plants and a few early season flowers, suggests a warm spring afternoon and seems to welcome guests, as its title implies.
Marie Watt (b.1967), Blanket Stories: Ancestor, Baron Woolen Mill, and Hill People, 2013, wool blankets and cedar base, 144 x 40 x 40 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Curtis Atkisson; and David and Bianca Lisonbee in memory of Rita Palmieri Elkin, 2013.
Marie Watt’s mother is Native American from the Seneca Nation and her father was raised on a Wyoming ranch. She calls herself “half Indian, half cowboy.” Her tower recalls totem poles from the American Northwest and the association of Native Americans with blankets. Native peoples give blankets for special occasions and rites of passage—a joy and privilege for both the giver and the receiver. It also reminds us of linen closets and our personal connections with blankets. Several blankets in this tower were donated by members of our local community, with attached tags recording their personal “blanket stories.”