Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Inventorying an American artist

Francis Bryant Godwin

Boxes full of photographs and drawings are taking over Joan Tkacs’ desk at The Georgia Museum of Art. She’s sifting through artifacts representing the life and art of American artist Frances Bryant Godwin (1892–1975).

Tkacs, an assistant to museum director William U. Eiland, is inventorying watercolors, woodblock prints and written postcards by Godwin, along with her photographs and drawings. Items range from a folder of surreal and abstract “dream drawings” to photographs of Godwin’s dogs.

“It’s a lot of strange odds and ends,” said Tkacs. GMOA is deciding whether or not to acquire Godwin’s works of art. Tkacs is in charge of going through these archives to help the museum learn more about the artist.

Godwin was trained as a sculptor by Daniel Chester French and dedicated her life to sculpting and drawing. She was part of an important and wealthy family of artists, art historians, art collectors and writers. As a result, she had important ties to social, cultural and economic American histories.

Tkacs has been working off and on the past two months on an itemized inventory, describing subjects of the items, detailing their conditions and estimating their quality. She’s gone through almost 400 objects in Godwin’s archives and still has two more boxes waiting to be reviewed.

Tkacs conducts research and helps Eiland whenever he needs assistance with a project or presentation. She began working at GMOA as an intern and has been Eiland’s assistant for six months. Her job consists mostly of research.

“I’ll be sad to see this project end,” said Tkacs, adding, “It’s a lot of stuff, but it’s all interesting.”

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