“When I think of art, I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye, it is in the mind. In our minds there is awareness of perfection.” -Agnes Martin, “Beauty is the Mystery of Life”
In 2016, the Mulvane Art Museum received approximately 2500 works (paintings, drawings, sculptures, and archival materials) that represent the creative life of Rita Blitt. Rita says, “Irwin and I selected Washburn as the home for my life’s work because of its commitment to the arts and its vision for the future. The Mulvane is the perfect venue to exhibit my art, a wonderful place where my art can live together as a body of work. We are thrilled to give this gift to Washburn and to the region. This is my dream come true– more than I ever hoped for.”
Rita has actively explored art since she was a child. Her grandfather, who was a Russian immigrant, designed embroidery pattern and would end his letters to Rita with flowers drawn along the bottom of the page. In her replies Rita would end her responses to him with drawings of flowers. As an adult looking back she said, “Perhaps my lines continue his.” From the personal cards and messages for her family or to commemorate special events to the spontaneous marks that dance across miles of paper to the monumental sculptures that define neighborhoods and communities around the world. It is the vision of the Mulvane Art Museum for students, faculty, and guest curators to create exhibitions, performances, compositions, and interpretive programs that utilize the Rita Blitt Collection and Archives in ways that allow us to explore music, dance, art , and life through her work.
Inspired by music and dance and compelled by an inner voice that drives her to create, line is the formal element that binds her work across time and media. For Rita, the act of creating is as spontaneous and compulsive as breathing. Movement. Dance. Music. Joy. A love for life. These are the elements that animate her artwork–line is a footprint that she traces across canvas and paper. Her drawings and sculptures hint at the exquisite beauty of line that embodies moments of the ephemeral coexisting with the impenetrable. She captures a whisper a note, a brief sigh and confines it to the surface of her canvas or paper before flying to the next page. Her sculptures transmute lines into three dimensional form to encompass and occupy space, inviting the viewer to become a participant with lines in motion.
Like Agnes Martin, Rita Blitt’s artistic practice derives from inspiration and the desire to capture the abstract glories of joy, beauty, life, and happiness itself.
Her generosity brings exponential opportunities to the Mulvane Art Museum, our staff, the faculty and students of Washburn University, and the visitors to the Museum and our campus. It is with great anticipation that we await the opening of the Rita Blitt Art Gallery & Sculpture Garden in November 2017.