AAM announces upcoming exhibition, 'Blanche Lazell: Becoming an American Modernist'
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AAM announces upcoming exhibition, 'Blanche Lazell: Becoming an American Modernist'
Blanche Lazzell (American, 1878 – 1956), Painting VII, 1927, Oil on canvas, Art Museum of West Virginia University Collection Acquired through James C. and Janet G. Reed.

EASTON, MD.- The Academy Art Museum announced the upcoming exhibition, Blanche Lazzell: Becoming an American Modernist. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, August 1, from 5 - 7 pm. A short documentary produced in conjunction with the exhibition will be shown on a large screen throughout the opening.

“We are thrilled to bring this comprehensive exploration of Lazzell’s career to the Academy, and to showcase a woman from West Virginia who upends stereotypical views about who was making avant-garde art in the United States in the early part of the twentieth century,” notes AAM Senior Curator Lee Glazer.

Blanche Lazzell: Becoming an American Modernist explores the pioneering artist’s lifelong pursuit of translating Modernism into an American art form and celebrates her largely unsung achievements in championing abstraction in the United States through painting and printmaking. This exhibition surveys the full career of American modernist Blanche Lazzell (1878–1956). Celebrated for her masterful white-line woodblock prints, Lazzell considered herself a painter first and foremost—from her early days studying in West Virginia, New York, and Paris through Depression-era Federal Art Projects and as a longtime resident of Provincetown’s vibrant art colony.

Born and raised in the small community of Maidsville, West Virginia, Lazzell graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in fine arts in 1905. Seeking further instruction, she first enrolled in the Art Students League in New York City and then went on two extensive trips to Europe. There she immersed herself in the studios of avant-garde artists who explored abstraction through the new movements of Fauvism and Cubism. Lazzell embraced these influences in her own work, creating some of the first non-objective prints and paintings seen in this country. She eventually settled in the artist colony of Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she worked with Hans Hofmann, co-founded the Provincetown Printers, and became a leading figure in white-line color woodblock printmaking.

Including more than 60 works drawn primarily from the Art Museum of West Virginia’s permanent collection, the exhibition explores the artist’s lifelong dedication to her craft and celebrates her achievements as a champion of modernist abstraction in the United States. All of the interpretive materials in the galleries will be available in English and Spanish. The exhibition also includes a short documentary video, produced by the Academy, with bilingual English and Spanish captions.

"Blanche Lazzell: Becoming an American Modernist marks a milestone as we unveil our first bilingual exhibition, opening new doors of access and inclusion to our entire community. We hope that Lazzell’s story will resonate widely, breaking down barriers and inspiring a deeper appreciation for modernist abstraction in all its forms,” adds Interim Director Jennifer Chrzanowski.

Throughout the run of the exhibition, a mobile art cart will be activated every Thursday for drop-in artmaking with a Teaching Artist, who will show visitors how to create collages inspired by Lazzell’s artwork. This program will be offered in Spanish on August 22, September 19, and October 17. Visitors with disabilities may request a session adapted to their accessibility needs.

The Museum is also offering a two-day workshop on floral design and printmaking organized in conjunction with the exhibition. On Day One, participants will learn about Lazzell’s interest in flowers and their place in her work. Lydia Woolever, owner of Easton’s own Little Fields Floral, will demonstrate the artistic process of floral design and help students make their own arrangements. On Day Two, Museum Teaching Artist Sheryl Southwick will discuss Lazzell’s white-line printmaking process and show participants how to make their own print. The dates for this workshop will be announced soon. Please visit academyartmuseum.org for more information.

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