Work of the Week: Critter

Written by: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

What is this creature? A bear? A dog? A hippopotamus?

Researchers aren’t entirely sure what “Critter” represents. They do know, though, that it was made by the ancestors of the Bamana people.

Unidentified artist. Critter, 1550-1650. Formed and sculpted terracotta. 5.06 x 4.19 x 10.5 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. Loaned from the David T. Owsley Collection. L2009.009.065

The Bamana live in Bankoni, located about six miles from the capital of Mali in Western Africa. Most Bamana are farmers, but many also choose to specialize in commerce, hunting, herbal medicine and even the arts.

The group has a rich artistic history. Artists over the years have produced woven cloths and wrought iron figures. They also create traditional masks, which are then used in community and educational events.

The Bankoni also frequently make sculptures and pottery. Male sculptors traditionally work in iron and wood while female sculptors generally work in clay.

While Bankoni is the city in which the Bamana live, it also can refer to the style of art the Bamana’s ancestors made. Bankoni art refers to a style of figure with tubular shapes, rounded edges and fluid contours. Bankoni art reflects the properties of the soft clay that is used to form these objects.  

“Critter” is a perfect example of a Bankoni work. Its legs, body and head all are made of tubular shapes. All of its edges are rounded. And its limbs and body form fluidly together.

Visit the David Owsley Museum of Art today to see “Critter,” lent to the museum by David Owsley. And be sure to check out the rest of our vast collection.




Written by: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

In March of 2016, the National Museum of Women in the Arts launched a social media campaign in honor of Women’s History Month. They asked what seemed like a simple question: “Can you name five women artists off the top of your head?” But many were unable to––even those who worked in the arts. The challenge brought shock, elicited a challenge and started a global conversation about female participation in the arts.

The museum continued the campaign in 2017, with 520 arts and cultural organizations from all seven continents and 30 countries recognizing the works of female artists. The challenge began again this March, with museums and organizations across the world shining a light on women who have made significant impacts in the arts.

Here at the David Owsley Museum of Art, we are honored to house many artworks produced by talented female artists who have made significant strides. In honor of the #5WomenArtists challenge, here are five inspirational women whose art is available to see at DOMA.

Christina Ramberg

Christina Ramberg (1946-1995) is an American painter who was part of the Chicago Imagists, a group of representational artists who attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1960s. Ramberg’s works often featured female bodies, constricted by clothing and forced into odd, irregular poses. The New York Times called Ramberg’s works “comic, formally elegant and erotically sinister.”

Photo provided by Women Artists on Facebook

Debbie Ma

Born in the Phillipines and of Chinese descent, Debbie Ma (1957-    ) is both a fine artist and graphic artist whose works have graced products of many major cosmetic companies. For many years, she has worked in her studio in New York City. Ma has painted since she was a child, and her experiences in graphic design often translate into her paintings.

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Photo provided by DMD Contemporary

Lee Krasner

One of the most well-known artists in our collection, Lee Krasner (1908-1984) helped break gender stereotypes during the male-dominated Abstract Expressionist movement. Although sometimes better-known for being artist Jackson Pollock’s wife, Krasner was a highly talented artist who painted boldly and expressively.

Photo provided by the Begovich Gallery on Facebook

Esphyr Slobodkina

Russian artist Esphyr Slobodkina (1908-2002) was a highly recognized artist, author and children’s book illustrator. She is most well-known for writing and illustrating her book “Caps for Sale,” which is regarded as a children’s classic. Slobodkina also created unique abstract paintings, which are housed in numerous institutions across the U.S.

Photo provided by Caps for Sale (Official) on Facebook


Stella Snead

Although Stella Snead (1910-2006) didn’t begin her career as an artist until her mid-20s, she went on to become a highly successful painter, photographer and collage artist. Her works mainly feature dreamlike landscapes, filled with whimsical animals and human-like creatures.

Photo provided by Her Art on Facebook

We are honored to celebrate these five women, along with the other brilliant female artists in DOMA’s collection, through the #5WomenArtists campaign.


Work of the Week: Man

Written by: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

It’s often said that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

However, no one takes that mantra as seriously as artist Leo Sewell.

Sewell grew up near a dump. He would often find pieces of trash and take them back to his home, playing and experimenting with the objects.

This childhood pastime would later turn into his career.

For the past 50 years, Sewell has made sculptures out of various pieces of “junk.” He searches the streets of Philadelphia, where he lives, looking for interesting objects he can incorporate into his artwork. In his workshop, he currently holds more than 100,000 unique objects, from corn holders to gold-plated shark teeth.

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Sewell’s works are featured in numerous institutions across the country – including a stegosaurus at the American Visionary Art Museum, a duck at the Fuller Craft Museum and even a 12-foot-tall dinosaur at the one and only Garbage Museum. His art was even featured on the show “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.”

Here at the David Owsley Museum of Art, you can see one of Sewell’s amazing works for yourself. “Man,” created around 1970, is comprised of a variety of carefully selected objects. Mass media images, children’s toys and scraps of metal all come together to form an anatomically correct man.


“Man” is considered to be part of the 1960s Pop Art movement, which used media and everyday objects to reflect the 20th century rise in consumer culture.

Plan a visit to DOMA to see one of Sewell’s innovative works for yourself. “Man” is located upstairs in the Ball Brothers Foundation Gallery.

7 Famous Artists You Didn’t Know Were in Our Collection

Written by: Emily Sabens, Public Relations Intern

At the David Owsley Museum of Art, we have over 1,000 works of art on display. But what many do not know is that we actually house over 11,000 artworks in our collection––many of which were created by some of the world’s most well-known artists. 

1. Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper is one of the most popular American realist painters. Hopper’s works are known for depicting urban life in the U.S., often showing how individuals can feel isolated in a huge city. He is best-known for his work “Nighthawks”––which portrays a downtown diner late at night.

One of Hopper’s works resides in the DOMA collection: “East Side Interior” is an engraving made by Hopper in 1922.

Edward Hopper. Nighthawks, 1942. Friends of American Art Collection. Photo provided by The Art Institute of Chicago on Facebook
Edward Hopper. East Side Interior, 1922. Engraving. 13 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. 1995.036.030

2.  Pablo Picasso

Often cited as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso was a radical artist who co-founded the Cubist movement. He often reinvented himself, switching between styles and mediums. Today, his works are on display at The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Art Institute of Chicago.

At DOMA, we currently have six prints from Picasso, including “Boy and Sleeping Woman by Candlelight.”

Pablo Picasso. The Old Guitarist, late 1903–early 1904. Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection. © 2016 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo provided by The Art Institute of Chicago on Facebook
Pablo Picasso. Boy and Sleeping Woman by Candlelight, 1934. Etching and aquatint on laid paper. 13 3/8 x 17 5/8 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. 1967.006.001

3. Francisco de Goya

Francisco de Goya is one of the globe’s most well-known Spanish artists. His paintings and drawings often depict historical events and offer his critiques of the government. Goya’s works are housed today in museums across the world, including the Museo Nacional Del Prado, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Here at DOMA, we house “Well-known Folly – that Guerrero!,” which was produced by Goya in 1816.

Francisco de Goya. La nevada o El Invierno, 1786. Photo provided by the Museo Nacional del Prado on Facebook
Francisco de Goya. Well-known Folly – that Guerrero!, 1816. 11 3/4 x 16 15/16 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. 1964.006.008

4. Grant Wood

Grant Wood is one of America’s most recognized artists. Born and raised in Iowa, Wood’s works often featured life in the Midwest. His most famous painting, “American Gothic,” has become an art icon. Showing a couple (his sister and his dentist, surprisingly, were actually the ones who posed for him) in front of a quaint farmhouse in Iowa, the work resides in The Art Institute of Chicago.

One of Grant Wood’s works calls DOMA its home: “Tree Planting Group” is a lithograph produced by Wood in 1937.

Grant Wood. American Gothic, 1930. Friends of American Art Collection. Photo provided by The Art Institute of Chicago on Facebook
Grant Wood. Tree Planting Group, 1937. Lithograph. 8 3/8 x 10 7/8 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. 2005.043.034

5. Jackson Pollock

Considered a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement, Jackson Pollock was an artist best-known for his use of drip painting. Today, his paintings are housed in multiple museums across the globe, including in The Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian and the Guggenheim.

While DOMA is best-known for housing “Right Bird Left,” a painting by artist Lee Krasner, who was married to Jackson Pollock for 11 years before his death following a car accident, we do own a piece of his art, as well––an untitled engraving made in 1944 and then printed in 1967.

Jackson Pollock. Gothic, 1944. Oil on canvas. The Museum of Modern Art. Photo provided by The Museum of Modern Art on Facebook
Jackson Pollock. Untitled, engraved about 1944; printed posthumously 1967. Engraving and drypoint on cream wove paper. 14 5/8 x 17 3/4 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. 1971.028.000

6. Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí is one of the most unusual yet celebrated artists of all time. Dalí often took risks with his art––which paid off. He created paintings and sculptures that were highly imaginative and often featured dreamlike scenes. His most famous work, “The Persistence of Memory,” is located in the Museum of Modern Art.

At DOMA, we own a collection of tiles that was designed by Dalí. Produced in 1944, the tiles are currently on display in the John J. and Angeline Pruis Gallery upstairs.

Salvador Dalí. The Persistence of Memory, 1931. Oil on canvas. The Museum of Modern Art. Photo provided by The Museum of Modern Art on Facebook.
Salvador Dalí (Designer); ADEX (Producer); El Siglo (Producer). Decorative Tile: Le Soleil Végétal, 1954. Glazed ceramic tile. 7.88 x 7.88 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. 2013.006.001

7. Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder is an American sculptor who is often credited with inventing the mobile. Although he studied mechanical engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology, Calder’s true love was art. He went on to become extremely successful, incorporating movement into his works––something that had never been done before. He is best-known for “Cirque Calder,” a miniature-sized circus that includes dozens of movable features. 

Calder’s works are featured in numerous museums across the country, including the Whitney Museum, The Museum of Modern Art and at The Art Institute of Chicago. You can also find one of Calder’s mobiles right here at DOMA. Titled “Three Worms and a New Moon,” this mobile hangs from the ceiling in the middle of the Ball Brothers Foundation Gallery.

Alexander Calder. Cirque Calder, 1931. Wire. Whitney Museum. Photo provided by the Providence Children’s Film Festival on Facebook
Alexander Calder. Three Worms and A New Moon, 1949. Steel, aluminum, oil paint. 30 x 50 inches. David Owsley Museum of Art. 1950.196.000