WVU Libraries’ Favorite Art

an Online Exhibit

WVU Libraries’ Favorite Art

an Online Exhibit

Along with Art in the Libraries other online exhibits, we thought it would be fun to feature some of our faculty and staffs' favorite or influential artwork – whether famous or not. Responses vary from personal to general and all very diverse and eclectic! We hope to do another round or two – so if this inspires you, please send Sally Brown Deskins your favorite or impactful art blurb!

My favorite artist is Pieter Bruegel the Elder. He was one of the most significant Dutch/Flemish Renaissance artists. I was introduced to him by a professor in undergrad who used his paintings in class as a way of looking at the lives of ordinary people. Bruegel's paintings, such as The Battle Between Carnival and Lent (1559), The Peasant Wedding (1566-69), and Children's Games (1560) contain so many people and so much detail that your eyes are constantly scanning, looking for something new.

- Jessica Eichlin, Reference Supervisor and Library Associate

The Battle Between Carnival and Lent by Peter Bruegel the Elder, 1559 (Photo from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fight_Between_Carnival_and_Lent)

1. Alice Neel - I love her use of color in portraits.
2. Miriam Schapiro - I love how she shows the art in fabric and craft which was downplayed in the art world as lesser than other art because it was women’s work. 
3. Nikki McClure - She cuts all of her art out of a single piece of paper with an X-Acto knife. I think the intricacy of her work is amazing and I like her subject matter which mostly has to do with nature and community.

-Alyssa Wright, Associate University Librarian

Dane Gordon by Alice Neel, 1972 (Photo from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Neel)

Peridot Pinwheel by Miriam Schapiro, 1979 (Photo from http://www.artnet.com/artists/miriam-schapiro/peridot-pinwheel-1W9yb4LX9Y4cKFnSeQC2fg2)

Change by Nikki McClure (Photo from https://buyolympia.com/Artist/Nikki+McClure)

Smoke rising from a burned-out candle signify the moment the last breath and spark of life leave a young man lying beneath an open window. I am unable to forget the oil painting by English Pre-Raphaelite/symbolist painter Henry Wallis,The Death of Chatterton and how symbols in images can convey meaningful messages. The painting's imprint on me personalizes the “threshold concept” on several levels.


- Beth Toren, Interdisciplinary, Cultural and Film Studies Librarian (University Librarian)

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chattertonn.jpg

I have two favorite artists. Only one is actually exhibiting works at the moment, so I'll just talk about him: John Brosio. He does very slice-of-life paintings with an unusual twist. He includes a monster or a gigantic crab or some other bizarre thing to them. I hope one day to win a lottery so I can buy an original!

- Martin Dunlap, Engineering Librarian (Staff Librarian)

Tomorrow by John Brosio, 2018 (Photo from https://johnbrosio.com/paintings/)

My contribution is a little silly. I love going to museums or galleries, I’m a big fan of landscapes. Given that, and given the current stressful circumstances, I’ve been watching old episodes of the Joy of Painting, with Bob Ross. I know, it’s a little cheesy, and there’s certainly many, much better painters, but it’s very relaxing. Between his speech patterns, the painting noises, and the occasional animal appearance, it’s all very ASMR. I believe all of the episodes are now available online at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxcnsr1R5Ge_fbTu5ajt8DQ. Now that I have some more free time, I think I’ll have to pick up some painting supplies and try to follow along at some point. We’ve certainly got a lot of beautiful scenery around us to inspire as well.

- Jeff Werst, Science Librarian (Staff Librarian)

I’m not sure I have a favorite, so I’m going with someone I knew personally - my Uncle Jess. 
Jess Cauthorn served in WWII in the Pacific and did combat art, then went on to make a living doing watercolors of the northwest and opening an art school. He was a practical guy, and if you met him, you would not have thought artist, but you might have thought combat veteran of amphibious assaults. He made art something that was not highfaluting, but could be raw and real. Everyone wanted to be on his Christmas card list because he always did an original watercolor for the family’s Christmas cards.

I simply enjoyed his work since I knew him and could hear the stories behind the art he created. (My uncle led me to seek out other combat artists and a couple whose work I’ve found fascinating for the side of war they reveal are Tom Lea (The 2000 Yard Stare) and Steve Mumford (collection of his works in “Baghdad Journal: An Artist in Occupied Iraq”)).

- Bill Rafter, Head of Systems Infrastructure (University Librarian)

(Photos courtesy of Bill Rafter)

I came across this framed print in a thrift store about seven or eight years ago. I was drawn to it because reminded me in a vague way of one of my favorite stories from
childhood, The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Andersen. I bought it and took it home, and when I took it out of the frame I saw that the print was actually a greeting card that another owner had matted and framed. On the back of the card was the name of the illustrator's name: Gustaf Tenggren. After some research, I found out that Tenggren was like Hans Christian Andersen, both of Scandinavian origin and a purveyor of fairy tales. He was the chief illustrator for The Walt Disney Company in the 1930s and was a major contributor to many of their films, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I still love looking at this image, and not just for the nostalgia. There are some stark
contrasts that keep it interesting, including the flashing orange fish among the pastels and the children's dramatic body language and uneasy expressions in an otherwise peaceful picture.

- Eva Mays, Library Associate

Photo courtesy of Eva Mays

The Byodo-In Temple was built in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Japanese immigrants to Hawai'i. The temple is a replica of the Byōdō-in, a Buddhist temple built in 998 in Japan. When I was a kid growing up in O'ahu, I merely thought of the Byodo-In Temple as a place where you took visiting family and friends, as I primarily saw beaches, hiking trails, and other scenic locations in Hawai'i as tourist destinations. As I reflect on the impact of colonization on the kānaka maoli (native Hawaiians), I'm reframing how I think about Hawai'i in general and land in particular. I think about this, as three of my grandparents are buried in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park where the temple is located. They are buried in a section of the park that is dedicated to refugees from Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. My family, along with so many other people in the United States, are settlers.


Though I appreciate visiting the temple to appreciate its architecture and enjoy the cool breezes off the Ko’olau Mountains, the Byodo-In Temple, like other cultural landmarks in the United States, is complicated. Cultural landmarks can be beautiful, important, painful, and hold contradictory meanings for different people. In Hawai’i, the Byodo-In Temple is not just a commemoration of an historic event for the Japanese community, but it can be yet another painful reminder of colonization for many kānaka maoli. For me, the Byodo-In reminds me that things are not always as simple as they may appear and that we need to be mindful and reflective of how we interact with each other and with the land upon which we are privileged to enjoy.

- Jessica Dai (Photo by Jessica Dai), Resident Librarian (Staff Librarian)

Byodo-In Temple, Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, O'ahu, Hawaii

One of my favorite artists is painter Alice Baber, an abstract expressionist who was committed to advancing women in art. She organized many exhibitions of women artists throughout the 1960s and '70s, including one in conjunction with the United Nations' International Women's Year. One time when I described Baber and her work to someone, they suggested I read Siri Hustvedt's The Blazing World, which has actually become one of my favorite books; it's about a female artist who develops a complex scheme to expose the art world's sexism.

- Lynne Stahl, Humanities Libarian (Staff Librarian)

The Light in the Depths by Alice Baber, 1975

(Photo courtesy of https://www.wikiart.org/en/alice-baber/the-light-in-the-depths-1975l)

Amongst all of my visual eye candy In my office, I have an owl watercolor created by William Kolliker. The owls are sweet, have really huge eyes and seem so happy. The day he came to demonstrate his process and talk about his work, I had no idea about him or what he created. The library director was involved in sponsoring this event and I was new to the library only working there a few months as we had recently moved to EL Paso, TX. The event was about 90 minutes long, he discussed who influenced him, why art was a passion, the joy of creativity. Since the library sponsored the event I spoke to him casually. No more than five minutes if that. Just before he left he decided he would gift his creation/ demonstration piece and guess what—he chose me. I don’t know what made him decide I was supposed to be the lucky one, and I really did feel so lucky that day!  A real artist gave me a gift of real art. How about that! The library director’s husband framed it for me. He was teaching himself how to do it. So it worked out it was completely a gift all around. 

- Martha Yancey (Photo courtesy of Martha Yancey), Director and Access Services and Resource Sharing Librarian (University Librarian)

During the summer of 1984, I was blessed to participate in a travel abroad experience through WVU's Foreign Languages Department that took me to Madrid, Spain.  We attended classes led by our WVU instructor during our time there.  We were allowed to have free time also so that we could explore the city.  I looked forward to going to the Prado Museum as I had never been in such a large museum.  I mostly just wanted the experience as I was not what one would consider "an art lover".  As I was walking through the museum, I came to the bottom of a staircase and looked up.  I cannot fully explain what I felt, but it was almost like hearing angels sing!  There, at the top of the staircase, was the most beautiful painting that I have ever seen.  It was Cristo Crucificado by Diego Velazquez. It was huge!  Awestruck, I began slowly climbing the stairs, not taking my eyes off of the painting.  As I drew near, I was mesmerized by the face of Christ.  It was so peaceful and serene, despite the violence of what had been done to him that was depicted in the rest of the painting.  I don't know how long I stood in front of that painting, but it was the first time that I actually felt the power of ART.  

- Sherry Condon, Library Associate

(Photo courtesy of https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/the-crucified-christ/72cbb57e-f622-4531-9b25-27ff0a9559d7)

Cristo Crucifiado by Diego Valazquez

Growing up, I knew art was important; my parents brought me to Museums on trips and fairly regularly in our town of Omaha, Nebraska, though to me, they stood too long in front of each work. When I was in high school art history class (yes we had art history!), and assigned to write a research paper, I opened one of my parents' art history books and randomly selected Marcel Duchamp. I was instantly enchanted by this artist's use of both theory and sense of humor in his paintings and "ready made" sculptures. I got an A on the paper - and the teacher even read my paper to the class of 100 as an example. Since then I have learned there were women the Dada movement - including his sister, Suzanne - something I just learned this year! In fact the book I had used to write this paper (the infamous HW Janson’s History of Art (1971) which I still have) - includes zero women artists (aside from anonymous). This work influenced me by inspiring me to work in the arts/create/study art - as well as encourage me to seek out more work by women artists.

L. H. O. O. Q. by Marcel Duchamp, 1919

Solitude-Funnel by Suzanne Duchamp, 1921

- Sally Brown Deskins, Exhibits and Program Coordinator 

(Photo courtesy of the Norton Simon Museum)

(Photo courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art)

This hand carved woodcut and print were made by WVU student Emily Londregan and was one of the winners of the 2016 Dean of the Libraries Student Art Prize. As a winner, this art was hung for a semester at the entrance of the Downtown Campus Library where I passed it day after day.  It always made me feel happy to see it and as the semester was winding down and it was about to be taken down I realized that I wanted to continue to be able to see it.  I was so happy when I reached out to Emily about buying it and she agreed.  It now graces my bedroom wall, along with one print made from it and continues to bring me joy.  I find the image soothing and beautiful.  I love having the actual carving that reminds me of the craft and talent that is behind the beautiful print. I think so often we enjoy art and never take the time to think about the artist and the talent that went into the work. Having these two hang side by side reminds me that there is work behind art.


I wasn't Dean of the Libraries when this piece was chosen as a winner, but now I am and I get to participate in selecting winners of this prize each year. I never cease to be impressed by the talented students in the College of Creative Arts and I think often about how this campus hones and develops so much talent and sends it out into the world each year.  I'm so happy to be part of this great university.

- Karen Diaz, Dean of WVU Libraries

Woodcut Flowers by Emily Londregan, 2016

When I was younger, Dali, due to the quality of the surreal and being a teen, was on my walls; and then in my 20s Renoir, because it was detailed in the lack of details – in a different way-- simple and beautiful. Now that I am older, I appreciate my local friends who are amazing artists:

Jennifer Ramsey https://www.instagram.com/jamseyart/

Malissa Goff Baker https://www.facebook.com/mgbportraits/

Sonya Lucas https://www.sonyalucasart.com/about


Each one is a powerful force and I feel like, perhaps, my earlier historical preferences are touched upon in a way with each one above. Jennifer often does a cross of the surreal and real, frequently in portraits of real people or those she invents. Malissa does realistic portraits and still life studies, sometimes combined, that truly have amazing details. Sonya, with her work, has a surreal feel of her own, but with images that hit home in content and medium, as she uses coal in her paint and often finds inspiration from West Virginia.

- Kyla Lucas, Resource Sharing Supervisor and Program Assistant III

Toby by Jennifer Ramsey (Photo from https://www.instagram.com/jamseyart/)

Painting by Melissa Goff Baker (Photo from https://www.facebook.com/mgbportraits/)

Bear by Sonya Lucas (Photo from https://www.sonyalucasart.com/about)

Salted caramel or fresh strawberry?  If it’s difficult choosing a favorite ice cream, how much harder to choose a favorite artwork?  It’s tough to settle on just one.  Among my favorites is this stained glass window is the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence, by Henri Matisse.  In shades of blue, green, and yellow, the simple shapes boldly declare their 20th century origins, in contrast to the ornate windows of medieval and renaissance cathedrals. Matisse, recovering from major surgery, was cared for by a private nurse who later became a Dominican nun.  Sister Jacques Marie consulted Matisse about drawings she’d made for a new chapel, which subsequently led to Matisse designing the entire chapel between 1948 and 1951.

- Beth Royall, Creative Arts Librarian (University Librarian)

Read all about the chapel in Matisse: The Chapel at Vence, by Marie-Thérèse Pulvenis de Séligny. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2013.  Evansdale Library NA5551.V43 P85 2013

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