A work of art highlighting a piece of Sweet Briar history will be featured in the Missoula Art Museum’s 44th annual benefit auction, which takes place at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6.
Montana-based artist Leslie Van Stavern Millar created “Sweetbriar Plantation Artifacts” following a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, an artists’ retreat adjacent to Sweet Briar’s main campus.
The encaustic painting became part of an exhibition she had at the College in spring 2014, “Cabinet of Curiosities.” Now, it is among just 36 pieces selected by the renowned museum for its live auction, and is valued at $1,800.
In a recent interview with auction volunteer Libby Addington, Van Stavern Millar explained how it came about.
“One year I discovered this unassuming little building on [the Sweet Briar College] campus — a museum … in the process of [reorganizing] all these displays,” she recalled.
“I spoke with the curator [Karol Lawson] and learned of the school’s plans to archive the items and replace them with [newer materials for exhibition]. I convinced them to pause the archiving work long enough to allow me to take photographs of the objects I had so admired over the years.”
Among them were artifacts owned by the College’s founding family in the 1800s, such as Daisy Williams’ doll, a teacup and founder Indiana Fletcher Williams’ fan.
“I feel so lucky to have had an opportunity to focus on the Sweet Briar history in an innovative, intimate way,” Van Stavern Millar said. “I love the idea that, over one hundred years later, I can connect with the story and retell it visually.”