Discover the vibrant spirit of 18 different African American women in the current exhibition at LaGrange Art Museum.
The poet Thomas Merton once said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Isn’t that the goal of every trip? Life may take us to unexpected places, but art allows us to connect with our surroundings in new ways. That’s why the best exploration happens at an art museum.
One exhibition you won’t want to miss is Dancing on the Edge of the Abyss: Abstraction by African American Women Artists in the Cochran Collection at the LaGrange Art Museum. It features rarely seen works by 18 different female artists and is curated by LaGrange’s own Wes and Missy Cochran.
These women persevered, remaining true to their artistic visions and are now internationally recognized for their talents and contributions to the art world. Notable artists in the exhibition include Betye Saar, one of the first African American women accepted into The Whitney annual exhibition in 1971, and the iconic Faith Ringgold, an activist who infuses themes of feminism, politics and American history in her work. Saar is known for her collages with found objects. As part of the Black Arts Movement in the 1970s, she tackled racism through the appropriation of African-American folklore, such as her Liberation of Aunt Jemima.
With its unique Victorian design contrasted with a color-popping mural by Deanna Sirlin, the LaGrange Art Museum is sure to catch your eye. The building itself has had many lives. Built in 1892, it’s served as the county jail, a furniture store and the offices of the local newspaper before becoming a museum in 1978, Always supportive of local artists, it also offers community art classes.
The owners of the Cochran Collection, Wes and Missy Cochran, have been collecting art since the ‘70s when Wes developed a taste for original prints by popular contemporary artists. In 2007, they opened the Cochran Gallery in downtown LaGrange to showcase their amazing finds. With works from Andy Warhol, Picasso, Johns and more 20th century masters, the Cochran Collection has been called one of the most significant private art collections in the United States and has traveled to numerous states for exhibitions.
Lithographs and paintings from Keith Rasmussen are currently featured at the Cochran Gallery. A Vietnam vet, Rasmussen attended the Minneapolis College of Art & Design and received his master’s in fine art at Penn State before being drafted into the Army. Post-war, he taught at the Atlanta College of Art before retiring to a 100-acre farm in nearby Mountville, where he set up a lithography studio. Rasmussen was also the director of the Chattahoochee Valley Art Museum for 15 years and his efforts expanded LaGrange Art Museum’s collection and contributed to the strong foundation of visual arts in the area.
Rasmussen unfortunately succumbed to cancer in 2006 but he painted up until his last day. The show is made up of his watercolors, lithographs and pencil drawings. Rasmussen’s work will be on display and for sale in The Cochran Gallery until June 15th.
Both exhibitions are free to the public but donations are greatly appreciated. Your donations help keep art alive and thriving in LaGrange for generations and travelers to come. Here’s hoping you lose yourself in the beauty of great art and take home new inspiration.