BURLINGTON, VT.- The Fleming Museum
presents the work of Vermont artists Francis Colburn (1909-1984) and Ronald Slayton (1910-1992), in celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of their births. Opening on Tuesday, June 7, the special exhibition is titled A Centennial Celebration: The Art of Francis Colburn and Ronald Slayton. Longtime friends, the two artists exhibited widely in group exhibitions throughout their long careers, however, they have never been the sole focus of an exhibition together. Their work has not been seen in this magnitude for over twenty years.
A 1934 alumnus of the University of Vermont (UVM), Francis Colburn embarked on an artistic career at the Arts Students League in New York, eventually returning to UVM, where he served as artist-in-residence and established the University's Art Department. Also affiliated with UVM, albeit briefly, Ronald Slayton was enrolled at the University for the 1935-36 academic year. He left and joined Francis Colburn in the federally funded Works Progress Administration project (WPA), which ran from 1935 to 1943. The two artists are among the few native Vermonters to have participated in this government project.
Themes common to both Colburn's and Slayton's work produced during this period reflect a socially activist spirit, expressing sympathy with the labor movement and exhibiting an affinity for left-wing politics ranging from New Deal liberalism to socialism and communism. Although Slayton consistently used art to promote social change, he also responded to the beauty of the world around him through colors and forms that reflect an intense interior vision. Colburn also diverged from his socially driven art of the 1930s and 1940s to experiment with Surrealism, making him one of the first native-born Vermont artists to respond to European Modernism.
The exhibition consists of over 50 paintings, drawings, watercolors, and prints drawn from the Fleming Museum's collection and public and private collections across the state. Colburn was a raconteur and Slayton a poet, and their voices can be heard in a selection of recorded stories, monologues, and poetry available within the exhibition.
The exhibition will close on August 29, 2010.