Elizabeth Layton: Drawing As Discourse

Elizabeth Layton, Masks, 1978, colored pencil and graphite, 28″ x 22″, Kansas State University, Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, gift of the Lawrence Arts Center, 2014.455

On view through July 28, 2024

March 28, 6 p.m.
Dialogue between Mary Frances Ivey, Guest Curator and Don Lambert, advocate and friend of Elizabeth Layton

No RSVP required to attend in-person
RSVP for livestreaming option


Kansas Focus Gallery, First Floor and Oppenheimer New Media Gallery, Second Floor

Free and Open to the Public

Elizabeth “Grandma” Layton (1909-1993) began a contemplative drawing practice—coming to terms with her body, sense of identity, views, concerns, memories, and experiences—in 1977 at the age of sixty-eight. Elizabeth Layton: Drawing as Discourse will celebrate Layton’s art with thirty-two of her works on paper, highlighting the way that her drawing desk was an intellectual, reflective, and advocatory space for her, where she shrewdly engaged with roaring ideological debates, studied art history, and confronted injustices of her time. The exhibition highlights this throughline in her art: she channeled self-portrait drawing into a space for discussion (mulling over her thoughts alone, sharing with friends and family, and eventually museum audiences), working through unresolved ideas, and processing her curiosity about the world.

Taken together, the works in Elizabeth Layton: Drawing as Discourse echo conversations in U.S. culture today. Sexism, racism, ageism, ableism, fatphobia, the oppression of LGBTQIA+ individuals, censorship of artists, and the urgency of caring for mental illness—these are a mere handful of Layton’s numerous social concerns in her art. She rendered these subjects with her signature self-deprecating wit, insisting upon treating anyone who is downtrodden with empathy and educating oneself before casting judgment. Taking cues from the artist’s enduring interest in the power of art to inform, disarm, and engage, this exhibition presents Layton’s work as a space for discourse.

Elizabeth Layton: Drawing as Discourse was organized by Guest Curator Mary Frances Ivey, PhD Candidate, Kress Department of Art History, University of Kansas and Sarachek Curatorial Fellow for Wiggins Studies, Wichita Art Museum. Learn more about this exhibition at nermanmuseum.org.

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