Playing Favorites: Audra Widmann & Alphonse Mucha

We’ve asked FWMoA staff the hardest question you can ask art museum people: so, what is your favorite artwork currently on display? As “art museum people”, we often get asked about our favorite artists, artworks, and the art we choose to hang on our own walls. Since not all of our staff are front-end, and not all of them write for the blog, this series gives everyone a chance to get to know them, too. Taking advantage of our rotating exhibitions of artworks, from painted portraits to sculpted bronzes, FWMoA staff from all departments are choosing artworks that enthrall and enchant them; or, in other words, playing favorites.

Despite being the FWMoA Permanent Collection Intern for the past two years Audra Widmann chose Zodiaque (Zodiac) by Alphonse Mucha, from the traveling show Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau, as her current favorite!

Alphonse Mucha, Czech, 1860-1939. Zodiaque (Zodiac)*. Color lithograph mounted on linen, 1896. On loan from Landau Traveling Exhibitions. Image in the Public Domain, courtesy of WikiArt. This artwork is in public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or less. *The Zodiaque (Zodiac) in the exhibition has some differences from this version, a different version of the print was chosen due to copyright restrictions.

Q: What is the first thing you noticed about this artwork? What drew you to this particular piece?

A: The first thing I noticed was the circle of zodiac symbols behind the woman. I was drawn to this piece because of the sleek, elegant lines of her hair and her stoic, yet proud, profile. I also found the use of earthy colors to be quite eye-catching!

Q: Would you hang this artwork in your home? Why or why not?

A: I would definitely hang this piece in my room! I have a very earthy and mystical aesthetic, so it would blend well with the colors and shapes in my room as well as the plants and other earthly items I have for decorations. It would also serve as a reminder of the type of person I wish to be in my life.

Q: What does this artwork mean to you?

A: Zodiaque (Zodiac) captures the essence of a way of life and being in the world, one that I admire fully and wish to be a part of. When I look at this piece, I see a peaceful and proud woman who values freedom above all else and views the earth and spiritual realm as guides and partners in life. But more than that, there’s a lighthearted spirit to it. Think of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy” music video; Stevie Nicks spinning around in her shimmering white gown, hair loose, and creating her own path in life with that wonderful guitar melody in the background that makes you smile…that’s what I see in this artwork.

There is also a deeper spiritual meaning that I pulled from this piece; the subject has crystals adorning her neck and her headpiece, the shape and color look like clear quartz. Clear quartz is known to be helpful in achieving clarity and removing negative energies around a person. The presence of the moon in the lower right and sun in the lower left show harmony between the light and the dark, and also a connection to the spirit and one’s own intuition. The snowflakes on her headpiece symbolize innocence, purity, and new beginnings. All of this coupled with the zodiac behind her and the stars on her shoulder show that there is a tender balance in the world, and when one is in touch with the earth, it will bring about peace, wisdom, and the discovery of joy.

Q: Why did you choose to be an intern in an art museum?

A: I thought it would be a great way to gain experience and learn more about a topic that I originally had very little knowledge of; I have come a long way since then, and have grown to admire and appreciate many forms of art.

Q: What has been your favorite exhibition at FWMoA during your employment? What exhibition are you most looking forward to in the next year or two?

A: I deeply enjoyed the American Impressionism exhibit earlier this year. I found the various landscapes absolutely stunning, and they held a lot of emotion within them. Each piece was like being transported to a different dreamlike world full of whimsy, adventure, and rumination.

Q: What kind of art (if any) do you have in your home?

A: I have many nature prints in my room, varying from dark, smooth, stony shores during sunset to cherry blossom blooms in spring. I also have a print from the artist Leonid Afremov framed on my wall to gaze at when I feel like daydreaming, as well as many watercolor and acrylic paintings that I have created myself!

Catch Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau on display at FWMoA through September 26th, 2021.

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