Photograph courtesy of the Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, South Carolina

Spotlight Series

American South Consortium Exhibition

March 2023 through August 2024

On view in the Blount Watercolors Gallery


The American South Consortium is a multi-year partnership of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Hartford, CT), the Columbia Museum of Art (Columbia, SC), and the Mobile Museum of Art (Mobile, AL). Working collaboratively, we created a series of exhibitions shaped by each of our collections to broaden the story of American art. The Spotlight series tells new and innovative stories while expanding the understanding of fine art and design by including functional objects. These installations highlight the stories behind singular objects, one from each museum, through an in-depth presentation of its artistic, social, and historical frameworks.

Above: Thomas Day (American, 1801–1861), Bureau (detail), about 1855, Mahogany, mahogany veneer, yellow pine, poplar, marble, mirror (replaced), Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Clark and the
Richard H. Jenrette Decorative Arts Purchase Fund, 1998.9

Spotlight: Thomas Day

On view November 16, 2023 through March 17, 2024

Columbia Museum of Art’s Bureau (about 1855), made by Thomas Day (American, 1801–1861), demonstrates the accomplishments of a free Black cabinetmaker in the face of restrictive conditions in the pre-Civil War era.

About the Columbia Museum of Art

Established in 1950, the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) is located in the heart of downtown Columbia, SC. The CMA encompasses nearly 7,000 works and spans thousands of years of history, representing a full range of world cultures, and remains the premier art museum in the Southeast and vibrant community hub of the South Carolina Midlands.

Thomas Day (American, 1801-1861), Bureau, about 1855, Mahogany, mahogany veneer, yellow pine, poplar, marble, mirror (replaced), Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Clark and the Richard H. Jenrette Decorative Arts Purchase Fund, 1998.9

Spotlight: Alexander Calder

On view April 11 through August 11, 2024

To expand the story of modern design, the Wadsworth will display rarely seen textiles by Alexander Calder (American, 1898–1976) such as hooked rugs by Leslie and Rufus Stillman made for a Marcel Breuer-designed modernist home in Connecticut, and Rasoir d’avion (Airplane Razor) (1971), a tapestry produced in France.

About the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Founded in 1842 with a vision for infusing art into the American experience, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is home to a collection of nearly 50,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years and encompassing European art from antiquity through contemporary as well as American art from the 1600s to today. The Wadsworth Atheneum’s five connected buildings—representing architectural styles including Gothic Revival, Beaux-Arts, International modern, and Brutalist—are located at 600 Main Street in Hartford, Conn.

Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976), Untitled, 1965, hooked by Leslie and Rufus Stillman after a design by Calder. Orange, yellow, blue, and black wool, 64 x 81 in. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, Gift of Leslie and Rufus Stillman, 2002.29.1. © 2024 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Spotlight: Yvonne Wells

On view March 23 through June 4, 2023

Spotlight: Yvonne Wells challenges the notion that quilts are craft and not fine art and uses as an example a quilt by African-American quiltmaker and Alabama native Yvonne Wells. The artist initially approached her work with a practical purpose in mind; using found scraps of fabric, she took up quilting during the cold winter months of 1979 to keep her and her children warm. With no prior sewing experience, Wells experimented with different techniques rather than using existing patterns. After determining that following a pattern did not provide enough creative freedom, in 1984, Wells began creating quilts to visually address her experiences during the Civil Rights Movement as well as religious, historical, and sociopolitical concerns.

For this exhibition, the MMFA will present two quilts by Wells. Her portrayal of one of Alabama’s most celebrated former residents, Helen Keller, and a quilt commemorating the Negro Baseball League.

Yvonne Wells (American, born 1939), Helen Keller, 2006, cotton/polyester blend, cotton, plastic buttons, embroidery thread, and lace, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, 2012.11

Spotlight: Dusti Bongé

On view July 13 through October 22, 2023

The Mobile Museum of Art will present the work of Dusti Bongé (American, 1903–1993), a prolific female modern artist from Mississippi, though her large-scale abstract expressionist painting Distillate of the Past (Fragment of the Past) (1958).

About the Mobile Museum of Art

Since its founding in 1963, the Mobile Museum of Art (MMofA) has evolved into the only accredited art museum in south Alabama, with a collection of over 6,400 artworks comprised of contemporary craft, decorative arts, painting, sculpture, and works on paper. Located in Langan Municipal Park, outside of downtown, MMofA serves the city of Mobile as well as the coastal areas of Western Florida and Eastern Mississippi.

Dusti Bonge © (American, 1903- 1993), Distillate of the Past (Fragment of the Past), 1958, Oil on canvas, Mobile Museum of Art, Gift of the Dusti Bonge © Foundation, P2006.02.01

Related Programs + Events

Support and Acknowledgments

This is a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art as part of the Art Bridges Cohort Program.

Interactive Exhibition Guide

Whether at home or in the galleries, explore more about the Spotlight artworks, artists, and museums by clicking the link below.

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