The Art Museum of West Virginia University reopens for the spring semester on Saturday, Jan. 21, with new exhibitions in both galleries, including “In/Humanity: Combat and War in Art.”
“In/Humanity: Combat and War in Art” focuses on how war and combat are inextricably part of the human experience, and art helps us make sense of the ways such conflict brings out the worst—and sometimes the best—in society.
This exhibition is co-curated by inaugural Art Museum of WVU Faculty Fellow Lisa Di Bartolomeo, Ph.D., WVU Department of World Languages, Literature, and Linguistics, and Robert Bridges, Curator, Art Museum of WVU.
Di Bartolomeo teaches the WVU class, “The Holocaust in East European Literature and Film,” and used the fellowship to bring together objects in the Art Museum’s collection for viewers to consider how creative expression in any medium helps us to both understand and reckon the violence of war and combat that permeates our world.
“I applied for the Fellowship because I saw an opportunity to expand my own horizons, as well as those of my students,” Di Bartolomeo said. “I knew it would give me a chance to learn more about the Art Museum and its collection, as well as to explore new ways to integrate art into the classroom, regardless of discipline.”
During summer 2022, Di Bartolomeo learned about the museum’s collection and became more comfortable speaking about art. She then worked with Bridges to curate “In/Humanity: Combat and War in Art.”
“It was a great learning process to work with Bob Bridges to decide what our exhibition's thesis would be, how it would fit in with my class on the Holocaust, and which pieces would serve the idea best,” Di Bartolomeo said. “I learned so much about what goes into to preparing an exhibition—things I never thought about previously, such as labels, placement of objects and flow through the exhibition.”
Di Bartolomeo and Bridges worked together to use objects in the museum’s collection in a way they thought would speak to people. “We tried to mix pieces and media in a way that would make folks feel comfortable and familiar while still challenging them with new genres and less representational pieces,” Di Bartolomeo said.
Five prints by Czech artist Jiři Anderle on view in “In/Humanity: Combat and War in Art” are Di Bartolomeo’s personal favorites in the exhibition.
“They’re my favorite in part because he is a Czech artist and the subjects of his pieces fit so well with my class, in part because I find his combination of different materials with printmaking so fascinating,” Di Bartolomeo said.
When asked what she hopes visitors take away from viewing “In/Humanity: Combat and War in Art,” Di Bartolomeo said, “one, I hope they, especially students, come and feel comfortable in visiting the museum and thinking about what they see.
“Two, I hope they consider how combat, violence, and even war fit a range of purposes, from terrible nationalistic demagoguery to inspirational calls to arms for just and noble causes,” Di Bartolomeo said “Finally, I hope they take away that we have a wonderful resource on campus called the Art Museum of WVU, with a wonderful team of people who can help figure out ways to work art into your teaching, research, and daily experience!”
The Art Museum of WVU will host several public events based on current exhibitions, including “In/Humanity: Combat and War in Art,” throughout the semester. For a full list of events, visit bit.ly/wvumuseumevents.
To plan your visit to the Art Museum of WVU, visit artmuseum.wvu.edu.