Tom Peterson, (American, 1930-2018), The Divine Comedy, 2001, Oil on canvas, 77” x 82”, Donated by the Family of Tom Peterson. 2019.5
May 19 – Sept 5, 2021

Multiple Voices/Multiple Stories

Drawn entirely from the extensive collection of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Multiple Voices/Multiple Stories, examines the multilayered narratives contained in figural representations. Ranging from traditional portraiture to creative depictions, the exhibition presents a diverse selection of works from across time and region, each with a unique story to tell. Although portraiture has been a standard form of representation throughout the history of art, this exhibition encourages a fresh and nuanced reading of such images of individuals. Multiple Voices asks us to consider not only the story of a portrait’s subject but also the relationship between the subject and artist, as is the case in David Hockney’s Joe with Green Window (1979), along with the historical context in which they both exist, as in Luis Zapico’s Portrait of General Antonio López de Santa Anna (ca. 1876).

More so than other types of images, portraits allow us to enter the psyche of both sitter and artist and invite us to interact with these individuals as their voices transcend the physical confinement of the frame and enter our present time and space. These stories often speak to historical moments, such as George Romney’s Portrait of an English Naval Officer (ca. 1780) and Daniel Lind-Ramos’ Vencedor: 1797 (2018-19), which present differing perspectives on the colonial narrative in the Caribbean. Other works, like Käthe Kollwitz’s Portrait of a Working Woman with a Blue Shawl (1903) and the Portrait of Marguerite de Valois (1610), illuminate gendered and socioeconomic constructions of identity and their role in shaping lived experience. Still others integrate literary or art historical references, like Tom Peterson’s The Divine Comedy (2001) and Yinka Shonibare’s Athena (After Myron) (2019), to add layered significance to anonymous subjects.

Engaging in transnational and transhistorical dialogue, the works in this exhibition converse with and respond back to one another in ways that elucidate new meaning from old narratives. These unexpected juxtapositions encourage contemporary viewers to consider alternative perspectives and challenge preconceived notions of identity, definitions of otherness, and issues of historical (in)visibility. We welcome you to lean in and listen to these multiple voices as they tell their many stories.



Käthe Kollwitz, (German, 1867-1945), Portrait of a Working Woman with Blue Shawl, 1903, Lithograph on wove paper, 19 ½ x 17 ½ in., Museum Purchase from the Wally Findlay Acquisition Fund, 1996.06
After Frans Pourbus the Younger, (Flemish, 1569-1622), Portrait of Marguerite de Valois, ca. 1610, Oil on panel, 13 3/4 x 11 in., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Everett M. Myers in memory of John C. Myers, Sr., 1962.4

The Museum is Currently Closed due to the COVID-19 Virus.

Normal Hours of Operation:
Monday closed
Tuesday 10 a.m - 7 p.m.
Wednesday-Friday 10 a.m - 4 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday Noon - 5 p.m.


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