MC prof Gombert's art to be purchased by West Virginia museum

December 18, 2003
David Rasnake, Communications Assistant

Artwork by Maryville College associate professor of art Carl Gombert will soon find a new home in West Virginia. His Family Resemblance, a series of eight portraits, was recently purchased by the Avampato Discovery Museum in Charleston, W.Va., and will be added to the museum’s permanent collection.

In September, Family Resemblance was selected for the Avampato Discovery Museum’s Appalachian Corridors exhibition, a juried show of work by Appalachian artists. Noted art critic Eleanor Heartney juried the show, selecting pieces from among more than 1,000 submissions. Gombert’s series was awarded second place among the 172 works selected for the exhibit, and the museum’s Collector’s Circle decided to purchase the piece.

Completed in 2001, the oil on canvas portraits that make up Family Resemblance depict eight unique but related faces: identical in pose, size and many facial features (the portraits all resemble the artist), half of the faces are masculine and half are feminine. Different racial and ethnic characteristics are also represented in each portrait.

“ The recent purchase of Family Resemblance by Gombert bolsters and expands our growing contemporary art portrait collection,” said Ric Ambrose, curator of art at the Avampato Discovery Museum. “Gombert’s eight self-portrait panels raise universal questions about gender, ethnicity and race in today’s society.

“ Of the 172 works of art juried into the recent Appalachian Corridors exhibition, [Family Resemblance] was the most discussed work of art of school groups, the general pubic and museum staff,” Ambrose noted.

Family Resemblance is the latest of Gombert’s works to be publicly featured. In 2002, the artist was commissioned to create artwork for the new Knoxville Convention Center, which opened its doors in October 2002. The six larger-than-life portraits of his Faces/Emotions series currently adorn a wall of the Center.

Formerly the Sunrise Museum, the Avampato Discovery Museum relocated to a brand new facility in Charleston’s Clay Center in July 2003. The 9,000 square-foot Juliet Museum of Art houses the Discovery Museum’s permanent collection of artwork, which consists of more than 750 individual pieces. With an emphasis on works by American artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Museum’s extensive collection includes works by such illustrious contemporary artists as Joseph Hirsch and Chuck Close.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.