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"True Colors" opens at Art Museum Jan. 22

Cindy ShermanThe Art Museum of WVU unveils “True Colors: Picturing Identity” on Saturday, Jan. 22.

“True Colors: Picturing Identity” is a new exhibition featuring selections from the New York collection of James Cottrell and Joseph Lovett exhibited for the very first time in West Virginia—including major works by Keith Haring, Deborah Kass, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, and Andy Warhol, among others.

Together with objects from the Art Museum’s permanent collection, “True Colors” includes paintings, sculpture, prints, ceramics, and photographs by 20 contemporary artists—all of whom use the human figure to explore and express diverse aspects of both personal and collective identities. Many of these works challenge traditional art historical narratives that have often excluded marginalized groups, including women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals.

Cottrell and Lovett are proud to be sharing works from their collection with audiences in Morgantown—most especially with WVU students. "Today, young people can be true to themselves and find strength in ways that were truly unimaginable in our youth,” said Cottrell. “To a large degree our societal ability to embrace differences has come about by artists who focus on our innermost sensitivities and yearnings."

“We are excited to open this exhibition that has been years in the making,” said director of the Art Museum Todd J. Tubutis. “Jim and Joe have been such generous partners in this project, and are both very supportive of the museum’s mission to engage visitors in conversations that help us understand one another better.”

A native of West Virginia, Dr. James E. Cottrell earned his Doctor of Medicine degree at West Virginia University in 1968. A co-founder of the subspeciality of neurosurgical anesthesiology, he is currently Chairman Emeritus of Anesthesiology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. In 2010, Dr. Cottrell received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Society of Anesthesiologists in recognition of his extraordinary accomplishments in the field. 

Mr. Joseph Lovett is a Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker who produced Parents of Gays for CBS in 1977, the first gay-positive report for network television. His most recent film, Children of the Inquisition: Their Story Can Now Be Told, was released in 2019.

Together, they have been collecting art for more than forty years. As a young couple living in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, Cottrell and Lovett grew their art collection based on their personal vision and vital friendships with artists. The pair was active in SoHo’s booming art scene and engaged in activism around the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“True Colors: Picturing Identity” will run Jan. 22 - May 15 in the Upper Gallery. The Art Museum of WVU is open Thursday through Sunday from 12:30 to 6:00 p.m. Admission is always free. For more information on the museum, visit

The museum follows all COVID-19 safety protocols set by WVU for all of its campuses. Please visit for current information.

Image: Cindy Sherman (b. 1954)
Untitled, 1975/2001
Gelatin silver print
25.4 x 20.3 cm / 10 x 8 inches
© Cindy Sherman 
Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth