‘Jefferson Legacy Series’
Edith Arbaugh reflects on the Lawn in exhibit
|“Jefferson Legacy I” is on view in the Rotunda Dome Room April 8 through May 19.
By Jane Ford
Artist Edith Arbaugh wrote in a book that incorporates her watercolor paintings and Jefferson cups, “Often it is chosen as a gift marking a milestone in the recipient’s life.”
This year Arbaugh is approaching a milestone in her own life — she will attend her first reunion since graduating from U.Va. in 1955. On May 17 and 18, she will celebrate her 50th reunion with former classmates in Charlottesville.
Although it’s her first reunion, the watercolorist has been no stranger to Grounds. She has lived in Charlottesville most of her adult life, teaching art for 29 years — 14 of those at Western Albemarle High School. During her last year of teaching she put together a book on her philosophy of teaching art with examples of student work that defines teaching techniques for building on previously learned skills.
An exhibit of her work, “Jefferson Legacy Series,” will be on view in the Rotunda Dome Room from April 8 through May 19 during celebrations for the 50th reunion and Founder’s Day. The series reflects more than her remembrances of the college years she and her husband spent in the Curry School of Education, then housed in Peabody Hall.
The 10 paintings in the exhibit reflect her love of U.Va. and admiration for Jefferson’s design of the Lawn. Each watercolor in the “Jefferson Legacy Series” was created in a two-step process. First, Arbaugh painted a scene of the Rotunda or an architectural detail of the Lawn, then incorporated Jefferson cups into the watercolor composition. The final painting combines the original drawing and fragmented images of it reflected in the curved shape of the cups. The paintings draw viewers in to search and explore the layering and many facets of the reflections.
“The cups are so connected with Jefferson and the University, I thought it would be interesting to join the two together,” Arbaugh said.
This is the third painting series in which Arbaugh has featured the cups.
“The silver cup designed in the 18th century by Thomas Jefferson has become a well-known classic shape in central Virginia,” Arbaugh wrote. “I think of the cup as a symbol of life — an eternity of circles — reflecting and becoming part of all that surrounds it. Yet keeping its interior separate, a retreat for quiet reflection.”
Arbaugh is a well-known figure in the Charlottesville art scene. She helped found the Watercolor Guild. In 2000 she received the Piedmont Council of the Arts Life Achievement Award.
For more information about the exhibit, contact Leslie Kelly, Rotunda Administrator, at 924-1019 or firstname.lastname@example.org.