Fast Favorites: No Place Like Home

Blog Category:  From the Collection
A color photograph of a young light skinned girl with light blonde hair. The girl peeks out from a fort made from a dark blue and purple comforter. A light pink and purple stuffed unicorn sits on a purple and white floral rug in front of the fort. A purple, blue, white, and black paper butterfly-shaped kite hangs on the wall above the fort.

In this series, museum volunteers share brief insights into their favorite NMWA collection works.  Hear from docent Jayne Beline about her favorite paintings, sculptures, and photographs that all connect to the idea of “home.”

1. Arreau, Hautes-Pyrénées (1949)

Every time I look at this colorful painting by Loïs Mailou Jones (1905–1998), I find myself smiling while focusing on a different part of the beautiful French landscape. As an African American artist, Mailou Jones felt at home in France, specifically Paris, where she was treated with respect and her art was appreciated.

Beneath a soft blue sky, a picturesque village nestles in a valley between a river in the extreme foreground and verdant mountains. Combining loose and discrete brushstrokes with a palette of greens and golds, the painting recalls Paul Cézanne’s late 19th-century landscapes.
Loïs Mailou Jones, Arreau, Hautes-Pyrénées, 1949; Oil on canvas, 19 1/2 x 23 5/8 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Gladys P. Payne; © Loïs Mailou Jones; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

2. Figure (Merryn) (1962)

Merryn, located in Cornwall, England, is a place that Barbara Hepworth (1903–1975) called home. I appreciate that this alabaster sculpture recalls the rolling landscape of this area, and I can envision a human form frolicking through the countryside. Hepworth, who wanted to be a sculptor from the time she was a young child, used direct carving to create this sinuous work.

3. Iris, Tulips, Jonquils, and Crocuses (1969)

Alma Woodsey Thomas (1891–1978) is one of my favorite artists. Her home was located on 15th street here in Washington, D.C. When I look at this painting, I see the flowers almost dancing and blowing in the wind. I imagine that Thomas gazed out her window and into her garden for inspiration. 

Abstract painting composed of brightly colored, lozenge-shaped brushstrokes in vertical stripes of navy, purple, turqouise, yellow, orange and red. The overall effect is as if the painting was collaged out of torn pieces of paper, with the white of the canvas showing through.
Alma Woodsey Thomas, Iris, Tulips, Jonquils, and Crocuses, 1969; Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 50 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; © 2024 Estate of Alma Thomas (Courtesy of the Hart Family)/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo by Lee Stalsworth for NMWA

4. Plaid Houses (Maquettes) (2005–11)

The word “plaid” in this work’s title is a reference to the 15th century Scottish Gaelic word for blanket (plaide). Laure Tixier (b. 1972) uses felt and other natural materials to highlight ideas of habitat, architecture, and city planning. Her maquettes depict homes from around the world, and they bring back my childhood memories of little miniature houses positioned under our Christmas tree.

Arrangement of nine small, felt houses on a white table. Each house is a different, vibrant color and represents a different style of architecture spanning time and cultures—including a hut, a yurt, a cottage, art deco, postmodern architecture, and more.
Laure Tixier, Plaid Houses (Maquettes): Blue Japan House, Blue Art Deco House, Red Deconstructivist House, White Hut, Acid Green Dome House, Brown Usha Hut, Pink Tower, Turquoise Blue Colonial House (Barbados), Orange Breton House, 2005–11; Wool, felt, and thread, dimensions variable; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Les Amis du NMWA, Paris, France; © Laure Tixier

5. Untitled (Fort) (2006)

When you were a child, did you ever create a home of your own by building a blanket fort? In this photograph by Angela Strassheim (b. 1969), the bright purples and pinks that surround this blanket fort provide a contrast to the girl’s facial expression. By meticulously staging this photograph, Strassheim invites the viewer to decipher what is happening in this picture.

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