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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended October 27, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 26Oct00

By Kent Larsen

LDS Artist Turns Family History Into Queens Museum of Art Exhibit

QUEENS, NEW YORK -- LDS Artist Valerie Atkisson has taken her family history to a new level, integrating it with her artwork in a way that is garnering praise and attracting attention to her work. Atkisson's latest work, entitled "Family in Norway" opened Tuesday evening at the Queens Museum of Art in New York City.

Her wall painting also inaugurates the museum's new Ramp and Wedge series, which takes advantage of wall space on a ramp connecting the museum's first and second floors. The exhibit space covers 80 square feet of wall space, stretching at its tallest the full height of the museum's two-story entrance.

Atkisson, a resident of New York City, has an MFA from New York's prestigious School of Visual Arts. Her work has appeared in exhibits at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Artists Space of New York, and d.u.m.b.o. Arts Center in Brooklyn, New York. Her art has been heavily influenced by her interest in family history, creating unique images that have attracted the attention of critics.

But Atkisson goes farther with her family history research than most LDS Church members. She says, "What began as an interest in my ancestors has turned into an insatiable desire to know as much about them as possible and fill in the gaps of knowledge with my own impressions of their lives." Much of Atkisson's recent work has had a similar emphasis on her family history.

Atkisson has therefore combined her genealogical research with background information information on the history and places where he ancestors lived, and then added her own impressions of their lives. Instead of a simple genealogical chart, she has created a unique "family biography," a mural that tries to convey the people and places in her family history.

To create this particular work, which explores her Norweigan ancestry (Atkisson is 1/8th Norweigan), Atkisson traveled to Norway with the help of a grant from the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, which supports emerging artists. There she collected background information on the places where her ancestors lived and the history of those places while they lived there.

The exhibit of Atkisson's "Family in Norway" runs through January 28th at the museum. The Queens Museum of Art is housed in the New York City building, one of the exhibition buildings left over from the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. The museum is best known for its permanent exhibit, Panorama of the City of New York, the world's largest architectural scale model.


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