Grace McDermott | September 17, 2019
In the popular imagination, literature and performing arts define Irish culture. Visual arts, though often overlooked, represent an equally vital creative tradition, observes Cheryl Snay, the Snite Museum’s curator of European art.
The Snite’s new exhibit, Looking at the Stars, on display through December 14, highlights that element of the Irish cultural experience, featuring artwork donated from the Donald and Marilyn Keough Family and other major collections. The exhibit’s name is drawn from Oscar Wilde’s words in Lady Windermere’s Fan: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
That sentiment, Snay says, captures the suffering and optimism that are so intertwined in Irish life and represented in its artistic heritage. “The Irish have this aura of being relatively happy, jovial and friendly people, even given the sorts of experiences and battles they’ve had to overcome. You wouldn’t know by talking to them the suffering they’ve undergone.”
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