A focus of the OSUMA collection is modernist work by Oklahoma artists. Unsurprisingly, many artists across the state who were interested in avant-garde aesthetics were also involved in art education—and Maxine Wood Warren, the subject of this week’s post, was no exception. The OSUMA received over 40 works by Warren as a gift from her daughter Alison, who is also an artist. Below, Graduate Research Assistant Mary Kathryn Moeller introduces a few of Warren’s works, along with the artist’s interest in poetics.
The OSU Museum of Art is pleased to have received an extensive collection of works by Ponca City artist Maxine Warren, a 1948 OSU graduate who studied under Doel Reed, J. Jay McVicker, and Dale McKinney. In addition to her career as a painter and printmaker, Warren was an Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition board member from 1997-2001 and helped to establish OVAC’s Artist Survival Kit program in 1999. She taught for a number of years in Ponca City at several elementary schools and served as the chair of the art department at the Senior High.
In honor of her mother’s career as an artist, educator, and supporter of the arts Alison Warren gifted the OSU Museum over 40 works including a group of monotype prints from a series entitled “Private Words to T.S. Eliot.” The title of the series comes from a 1957 poem Eliot wrote on the occasion of his second marriage, “Private Words I Address to You in Public.” For Warren these prints act as a dialogue between herself and the poet. Each work is a meditation on the themes and language utilized in the poetry to which Warren gives form through bright swathes of color. Her colors blend and blur on the edges of figurative forms that seem to be moving quickly out of sight.
Indeed Warren commented that her work in this series reflects an attempt to capture “the swiftness of our lives, the blur of our memory.” Even when her works do not contain the outline of the human form, Warren plays with a haze of white throughout her saturated colors which reflects her “keen interest in the transparency of light” so that the colors seem to be fluid rather than fixed and give the impression of the passing of time. This visual malleability invites viewers to enter into the dialogue between artist and poet where thoughts and feelings reign supreme and rapidity of daily life is caught ever so briefly for renewed consideration.