This month, the Westmoreland Museum has acquired Tina Williams Brewer‘s work ‘Divine Plan,’ 2003 and Stephen Towns‘, ‘Pioneers,’ 2020. In light of these acquisitions, we are highlighting Trib Live’s recent interview with the museum. This article underscores how the Westmoreland’s acquisition choices were very carefully considered. Each addition had to build on their existing collection, enabling them to present a richer and more diverse art historical narrative.
In the words of Chief Curator, Barbara Jones, “How (a piece) works with the existing collection emphasizes how carefully we consider taking gifts or making purchases,” she said. “We don’t just take anything. For us, it’s a matter of accepting works that add to the existing collection or add something that we don’t have.”
Works by Tina Williams Brewer and Stephen Towns are also helping to meet the museum’s goal of obtaining more pieces by Black artists, she said. Pittsburgh-based Williams Brewer, a renowned story quilt maker, has just begun to sell her all-hand-stitched work, Jones said. The artist stitches a handkerchief to the back of each one that contains a key to the symbols used, explaining the story the quilt tells, Evans said. “These quilts are so personal and take so long to do,” he said. “She’s so careful with where she shares her work. She said, ‘I’m sharing my DNA with you.’ ”
“The Pioneer,” Towns’ oil painting depicting a Black West Virginia coal miner, “works with so many different aspects of our collection,” Jones said. “It can be placed with more historical works, and it speaks to the history of the area.”
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