January 25, 2012
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Liberties with Liberty is on exhibit at the Atkinson Museum on the campus of Hampden-Sydney College through February 22. The exhibition contains twenty 24"x 36" color posters.
Liberties with Liberty depicts the changing icons of liberty in America. The images range from an Indian queen to the Statue of Liberty itself and represent three centuries of American folk art. This was one of 500 sets of posters produced by the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City. Their distribution to each state and to 188 American embassies and consulates worldwide was sponsored by Xerox Foundation. This set is being circulated in Virginia by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' Statewide Traveling Exhibitions program.
Liberty, as realized by Alsatian sculptor Frederick Auguste Bartholdi in his masterpiece, "Liberty Enlightening the World," or better known as the Statue of Liberty, was the combination of stock symbols and themes dating as far back as the classical world. Liberty's raised right arm with flaming torch came from the earliest illustrations of faith. Her radiant crown can be traced to images of truth. Liberty herself is known from the Roman world as a robed female. To these ancient themes Bartholdi added the face of his mother and the oversized scale of the Colossus of Rhodes, his inspiration for the statue.
In addition to images of the statue, one from an oil painting dated 1985, the posters include a needlework depiction of Liberty as Columbia with a flag, a pair of scrimshaw figures of Liberty and Justice, a detail of a Liberty coverlet, Liberty as a ship's figurehead, and a carved wooden money box topped by a Liberty figure.
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, mandated by the state legislature to foster education in the arts throughout the Commonwealth, maintains traveling exhibitions that are loaned to public service and educational facilities and organizations in Virginia through VMFA's Statewide Exhibitions program.