"A Grand Vision" exhibit at the Woodmere in Chestnut Hill

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"A Grand Vision" exhibition at the Woodmere in Chestnut Hill. Karen Rogers reports during Action News at 12 p.m. on October 17, 2017. (WPVI)

The Woodmere Museum in Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill section has a new exhibition that pays tribute to one of the region's most influential female artists.

It is called A Grand Vision and it highlights 20th century artist Violet Oakley who promoted equality of life through her work and made extensive contributions to the city of Philadelphia.

Violet Oakley was born in New Jersey in 1874 during the aftermath of the Civil War and she used her art to promote her platform of world peace and unity.

Bill Valerio, Director of Woodmere said, "She could have been the mayor of the arts in her time. She lived through the First World War and the Second World War and her life experiences told her that the world needed this coming together."

The exhibition features nearly 100 works including paintings, stained glass window designs, sketches, and the murals the artist was most famous for.

"She had projects that touched the whole world," Valerio said.

Her 1917 Unity Mural sits in the Pennsylvania State Capitol and shows the history of enslavement suffered by different races.

Valerio adds, "And she shows them being freed from the shackles and the chains around their ankles. And nobody did this.I mean she was an artist with a lot of guts."

In 1921 she designed the medal for the Philadelphia Awards.

"Which is something of our own Nobel Prize here in Philadelphia, and it's a beautiful gold medal," Valerio said.

Oakley's work is particularly significant to the Woodmere because her life partner Edith Emerson was the museum's director for 40 years.

"Edith made sure that we had this collection of her work to steward her reputation," Valerio said.

Valerio adds, "Violet Oakley was an inspiration for professional women in the United States before women even had at the right to vote. And that's what I think people will see in this show, somebody who was groundbreaking."

A Grand Vision is on display at the Woodmere Museum thru January 21.

For tickets and show times visit the Arts in Philly, and Twitter@TheArtsinPhilly.
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