The Art Museum of West Virginia University is home to a very special collection of works by WVU alumna Grace Martin Taylor.
Taylor was born in Morgantown in 1903 and graduated from WVU in 1928 before embarking on her career in art, becoming one of America’s most innovative printmakers of the second quarter of the 20th century. She also studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts with American Modernist Arthur Carles in the 1920s and received her master’s degree in Art from WVU in 1949. She continued post-graduate study at a number of prestigious art schools.
The Art Museum has acquired Taylor’s work thanks to multiple gifts from her daughter, Lucie Mellert of Point Pleasant.
“It seems especially fitting to have this important collection at WVU because Grace was an alumna and a native West Virginian,” said Joy Ice, retired director of the Art Museum of WVU. “Scenes of Morgantown and the area are depicted in many of her prints. Throughout her lifetime, she continued to study with various teachers, including fellow WVU graduate and family member, Blanche Lazzell. Grace Martin Taylor’s relationship with Blanche Lazzell as student and teacher, and as a fellow artist, offers new understandings of the ways these two artists influenced one another.”
More than 200 pieces of Taylor’s work are housed at the Art Museum of WVU, including what is probably the only public set of all 31 white-line color woodblock prints that Grace Martin Taylor produced in her lifetime. Mellert’s most recent gift included 49 works that filled the gaps in WVU’s collection of Taylor’s work, giving a complete view of the artist from different phases of her career.
According to Curator Robert Bridges, Mellert’s donations have been invaluable to the museum’s collection.
“Even though there is a market for the art of Grace Martin Taylor, Lucie Mellert recognizes the importance of education in the arts as her mother was dedicated to it,” Bridges said. “By donating a large body of work to WVU she helps the next generation of West Virginia artists study painting composition as well as the white-line wood block print.”
Since her death in 1995, Taylor’s art has been exhibited widely, most notably at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Academy of Design, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the British Museum.
One of Taylor’s untitled works is currently displayed in the Art Museum’s Exhibition “Impulse: A Trip Inside” that explores hand-wrought creations of artists near and far, past and present, as they respond to a creative instinct that compels them to convey their personal ideas, political agendas and cultural meanings through art.
“We would like to thank Lucie Mellert for the various donations of Grace Martin Taylor art throughout the years,” Bridges said. “She was truly a prolific artist, who contributed significantly to developments in modern art in West Virginia.”
To donate to the Art Musem of WVU, visit https://give.wvu.edu/art-museum-of-wvu.