The Art Museum of West Virginia University and The Friends of the Museum are holding the final “Art Up Close!” event of the fall semester, focusing on an individual work of art from the museum collection. The event will be held Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Titled ”’Houses without Trees’: The Art and Life of Alvena Seckar,” it will feature Art Museum Director Joyce Ice and Judith Stitzel, professor emerita of English at WVU and founding director of the WVU Women’s Studies Center.

Ice and Stitzel will discuss Seckar’s oil painting “Coming Home from Work,” one of several visual responses by the artist to the coal mining towns of her youth.

The program begins at 5:30 p.m. and will take the form of a conversation, with Ice and Stitzel bringing the perspectives of their disciplines to the discussion.

The “Art Up Close!” programs take place in the Museum Education Center (formerly the Erickson Alumni Center) adjacent to the WVU Creative Arts Center and are free and open to the public.

Seckar (1916-2012) was born in McMechen, W.Va., to Slovak immigrant parents, who lived in a company town near the coal mine where her father worked. From an early age and with only minimal encouragement, Alvena knew she wanted to be an artist, and despite physical and economic impediments throughout her life, her commitment never wavered; nor did her deep involvement in issues of social justice. A first-generation college student, she became an activist at the University of Pennsylvania, eventually completing degrees in art at New York University. Seckar bequeathed her home and many works of art to WVU.

Stitzel obtained her Ph.D. in English from the University of Minnesota. At WVU, she taught courses in women’s literature and feminist theory. After her retirement, she returned to school for a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at Vermont College. She has published fiction, non-fiction and literary criticism in Colorado Quarterly, Frontiers, a Journal of Women Studies, College English, and Green Mountain Review and has twice been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her most recent publication is the book “Field Notes from Grief: The First Year.”

Ice holds a Ph.D. in anthropology and folklore from The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to coming to WVU, she was director of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, N.M. She has taught courses in folk culture and curated exhibitions on folk art and faith, textiles, and festivals. At WVU, Ice has served as project director for two cross-disciplinary summer Teacher Institutes for middle and high school teachers with grants from the West Virginia Humanities Council.

Each “Art Up Close!” presentation features an original work of art and commentary by WVU faculty, followed by a question-and-answer session and light refreshments.

This program series is designed to give an in-depth look at a single work of art selected from the WVU Art Collection. Audience members will have the opportunity to view the actual work of art.

For more information, contact the Art Museum of WVU at (304) 293-2141 or see the website at:



CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts

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