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Zuckerman Museum of Art exhibits range of work by American modernist Virginia Dudley
Virginia Dudley with Mesopotamian Bull, mid-1950s. Image courtesy of Patricia A. Collier, Rising Fawn, Georgia.

KENNESAW, GA.- Chattanooga native Virginia Dudley exemplified nearly every major trend in American modernism for almost forty years. On view at the Kennesaw State University Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art from July 1 through August 2, 2014, “Virginia Dudley and American Modernism” explores the life and accomplishments of this 20th-century iconic artist.

The exhibition is the first major retrospective to include every phase of the late Virginia Dudley’s career, including her time as a student at the Art Students League in New York, as a documentarian and United States Air Force arts and crafts director in South Korea and as a professor at Shorter College. The ZMA at Kennesaw State University displays eighteen of Dudley’s works in photography, painting, printmaking, welded sculpture and a large assortment of her well-known forays into jewelry and enameling. The show includes “Sea Birds,” a major enamel work by Dudley in the collection of the Georgia Museum of Art that has not been seen publicly for many years.

“Several years ago the late Frank Hamilton and Robert Gilbert—who were major collectors of Dudley’s work—approached me with the idea of having a show of Dudley’s work at Kennesaw State University. After some preliminary research I realized what a fascinating subject she would make for an exhibition,” says art historian Joe Thomas, curator of the exhibition. “After becoming an adjunct curator at our new Zuckerman Museum of Art, this was the first project that I took up.”

The exhibition describes how Dudley’s career followed the American modernist pattern of ongoing artistic experimentation and commitment to self-expression. Dudley is quoted as saying, “Art is not only a way of life to me; it is life to me.” Dudley’s work is currently in the collections of the Library of Congress and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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