Following the Sun: The Art of Sue Jean Covacevich 1905-1998
January 29, 2010 – May 2, 2010
Sue Jean Covacevich established herself as a dynamic artist and art educator in south-central Kansas after spending more than a decade working and teaching in Mexico. This exhibition surveys the career of this native of Wellington, Kansas, who spent most of her career in Winfield, a community southeast of Wichita.
Covacevich worked in many media, including painting, printmaking, sculpture, mosaic, and stained glass, and she trod between the representational and abstract. Her subjects ranged from the Kansas landscape to world monuments to the heliotropic sunflower – an apt metaphor for the openness and movement that defined her career and work.
Covacevich studied art with Birger Sandzén at Lindsborg’s Bethany College. Her instructor became a lifelong friend, guiding Covacevich to Mexico City, where she met her first husband and moved in 1932. While in Depression-era Mexico the artist drew inspiration from the country’s people, architecture, and folklore and from interactions with figures such as muralist Diego Rivera. She taught at Mexico City’s American School before personal struggles brought her back to Kansas in the mid-1940s with two young daughters. Finding solace among friends in Winfield, she bloomed as one of that community’s most creative forces. She established the art department at Southwestern College and developed a pioneering art therapy program at the former Winfield State Training School. During the 1960s Covacevich developed another art program at Derby Senior High School, directing student work on an expansive mosaic mural series that gained statewide attention.
Exposure to Mexico’s great public murals led Covacevich to pursue public commissions of her own, including a 63-foot mural for Winfield’s CornerBank building and stained glass windows for the First Christian Church in McPherson. The artist’s time in Mexico also produced a wanderlust that propelled her after the 1950s to such places as Russia and the Middle East. These journeys had a deep influence on Covacevich’s art and teaching. Students of all ages benefited from Covacevich’s global outlook and passionate commitment to living life as art. The artist’s home in Winfield testifies to this philosophy with its painting studio, salon-style arrangement of art, and grotto-like garden.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a eighty-page catalogue. The exhibition catalogue is generously funded by Marie Shipley of Atlanta, Georgia.
“Following the Sun: The Art of Sue Jean Covacevich, 1905-1998” is sponsored in part by Teresa Covacevich Grana, Washington, D.C; CornerBank, Winfield, Kansas; Ted and Pam Van Dyk, Raleigh, North Carolina; Mr. and Mrs. Michael Cornfeld, Heritage Investors Management Corporation, Bethesda, Maryland; and the Winfield Publishing Company.
The following have loaned art for the exhibition: Teresa Covacevich Grana; Michael Michaelis, president and CEO, Emprise Financial Corporation, Wichita; Ted and Pam Van Dyk; Wichita Art Museum; Cowley County Community College, Arkansas City, Kansas; and The Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery, Lindsborg, Kansas. The Beach Museum of Art has also drawn from its permanent collection for the exhibition.