Contemporary art, interdisciplinary research communities, and traditional Appalachian culture converge in Rural Avant-Garde: The Mountain Lake Experience, an exhibition showcasing the collaborative creative works that emerged from nearly four decades of the Mountain Lake Workshop series. Founded by artist and scholar Ray Kass in 1980 and co-organized with influential art critic Dr. Donald B. Kuspit, Dr. Howard Risatti, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), The Mountain Lake Workshops integrated the arts and sciences in a dynamic experimental creative process that pushed past the traditional boundaries of art, dance, performance, and theater.
Key artists include Cy Twombly (1928-2011); Wayne Thiebaud; folk-artist, Howard Finster (1918-2001); Japanese minimalist artist and sculptor, Jiro Okura (1943-2014); experimental composer, artist, author and composer, John Cage (1912-1992); East Harlem street artist and muralist, James De La Vega; Colorado based eco-artist, Lynn Hull; installation-artist, Mierle Laderman Ukeles (official artist in residence of the New York Sanitation Dept.); ceramic artist, poet, and author of Centering, Mary C. Richards (1916-1999); sculptor in light forms and virtual reality, Jackie Matisse; artist, author and Zen Buddhist art scholar, Stephen Addiss; dancer and choreographer, Merce Cunningham (1919-2009;, Virginia photographer Sally Mann, with painter Jessie Mann and laser-artist Liz Liguori, among others, including Kass himself, whose individual workshops have provided an interface between the concepts and specific creative activities of many of the various workshops.
The LCVA is a 20,000-square-foot exhibition center featuring two rotating galleries that have shown works of worldwide importance, including the award-winning Reflecting Centuries of Beauty: The Rowe Collection of Chinese Art, the nationally traveled Pre-Columbian Art from the Mississippi Museum of Art, and a steady stream of solo and group exhibitions for nationally known artists such as Faith Ringgold, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Lesley Dill, David Macaulay, and Kojo Griffin.
The LCVA also dedicates one gallery to a permanent exhibition of stunning African art, part of the Ziegler and Brumfield Collections of African Art. In 1997 Robert Ziegler, a longtime resident of Africa, established this collection with twenty-six important pieces. In 1999, Thomas and Donna Brumfield donated an additional eighty-eight works of African art. The collection includes an impressive array of statues, masks, drums, baskets, and garments, covering four geographical areas, twelve countries, and twenty-seven cultures. A catalog of this collection, Telling Objects: African Art from the Permanent Collection of the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, is available.