Eleanor Merritt : Remembrance
At John & Mabel Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida
The State Museum of Florida
February 17 through August 21, 2022
The Ringling Museum is presenting an exhibition celebrating the life and art practice of artist Eleanor Merritt from February 17 through August 21, 2022. A honors graduate of the illustrious High School of Music and Art, she received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in Fine Arts from Brooklyn College CUNY. Her work was influenced by the training she received from notable instructors at Brooklyn College, including Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, James Ernst, Kurt Seligmann, and Mark Dillion.
Merritt’s expensive body of work explored the interrelatedness of society, spirituality, and gender while merging representational renderings of the figure with those that are culturally expressive and more loosely defined. Her mixed media practice often used acrylics, inks, and Black paper as a platform to describe deeply warming narratives of strength, agency, and empowerment. Merritt’s commitment to contextual relevancy and process allowed her work to continue to move, evolve in style, and transform over her six-decade career. During her long career, her work was exhibited across the United States to galleries and museums in Florida, California, Colorado, Texas, and internationally to Shimonoseki, Japan.
In addition to Eleanor Merritt’s extensive art practice, she was an equally important advocate within national and regional art organizations urging more equitable opportunities for women artists. Within the local Sarasota arts community, Eleanor was the Ringling Museum’s first African American board member and well-recognized leader in the local arts community, including being named “Artist of the Year.” Her exhibition of works at the Ringling will highlight her creative use of materials, movement between figuration and abstraction, ongoing commitment to women’s rights, and the importance of her practice within the lexicon of contemporary art.