Virginia Cuthbert is best known for her peculiar depictions of the world around her. Cuthbert moved to Buffalo in 1941 with her husband Philip Elliott when he became director of the Albright Art School, where Cuthbert would also teach painting. Her earliest works closely align with the aesthetic of the Ashcan School: an early-twentieth-century group of painters who sought to portray scenes of daily life in New York’s poorer neighborhoods. However, she later developed an expressive and moody style more closely aligned with that of Magic Realism. Memories of Childhood is a colorful scene but strangely devoid of cheer. A young girl holding two tabby-striped cats, most likely the artist as a child, dominates the foreground. She is seated in the grass while other figures cluster in the background. Yet, no one interacts. Perhaps Cuthbert’s memories here are twofold—nostalgia for a specific moment and a visual recollection of departed loved ones—and only connected through her composition.
Label from Menagerie: Animals on View, March 11–June 4, 2017