The Gibbes Museum of Art recently opened their two newest special exhibitions, Tabitha Vevers: Lover’s Eyes and Charles Edward Williams: SUN + LIGHT. Both special exhibitions will be on display in the museum’s Gallery 2 & 3 from October 11, 2019 – February 2, 2020.
“We’re always excited when we have the opportunity to display the work of artists with such depth and passion as these two have. Lover’s Eyes exemplifies how a traditional artform like miniature portraits can uniquely inspire the work of a contemporary artist. Vevers’ intricately painted eye portraits draw us in and ask us ‘who is looking at who?’” says Angela Mack, executive director of the Gibbes Museum of Art. “SUN + LIGHT also beautifully marries the past and present with its revived look at the civil rights era through the eyes of a next generation artist in Williams. Both Vevers and Williams challenge us to take a second look at the past and we can’t wait to share their works in our galleries.”
Tabitha Vevers (American, b. 1957) explores themes of power, pain, love, and liberation in her prolific series Lover’s Eyes. Inspired by traditional eye miniatures, a genre of portrait jewelry that became the height of fashion in the Georgian era, Vevers embraces historic painting techniques to create contemporary, jewel-like eye portraits in oil on Ivorine. Once worn as emblems of illicit affairs, eye miniatures, also known as lover’s eyes, were popularized in the eighteenth century by the Prince of Wales (later George IV) who sent his lover a miniature portrait of his eye as a memento. Vevers appropriates subjects from art history and popular culture to cleverly reimagine the traditional male gaze from the perspective of a contemporary woman. This exhibition complements the Gibbes’ collection of miniature portraits. The first American miniature portraits were painted in Charleston, and today the Gibbes is home to one of the most prestigious portrait miniature collections in the United States.
SUN + LIGHT features a collection of works by contemporary South Carolina artist Charles Williams (American, b. 1984) from his series Everyone Loves the Sunshine. The paintings in this exhibition juxtapose Williams’ own personal encounters, past and present, with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Williams attempts to strike a balance between both the peaceful and violent protests of the movement and of varied expressions of power. He recounts stories told to him by his grandmother about this specific period in U.S. history and the belief she passed down that would guide his work: “Stay in the light, stay positive.” SUN + LIGHT is organized by the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College, Lakeland, Florida.