Oct 4, 2021
UVA, Art, The Fralin Museum of Art

The Cavalier Daily • by Sarah Howorth • September 24th, 2021

It’s a known fact that everything miniature is undeniably cute. Tiny homes, pets and foods have always garnered a great amount of attention in popular culture, usually for good reason. Who knew miniature museums could have the same awe-inducing allure? The Fralin’s new exhibit certainly shows the joys of the miniature.

The Little Museum of Art exhibition is the epitome of small art that packs a big punch. It’s truly impressive how many swirling details each artist conveyed in such a tiny amount of space — see the impressive exhibition for yourself right outside the Fralin until Nov. 28. If potential viewers somehow miss this generous window of time, the exhibition will reopen with vigor in spring 2022.

This ingenious miniature museum was inspired by the Little Free Library movement, as well as other tiny galleries that were created during the pandemic. Another driving force was the desire to engage student artists, local creators and viewers. Moreover, the Little Museum of Art is the exhibition that keeps on giving, as works in this museum are rotated to consistently showcase new artists and exciting pieces.

Fans of the Little Museum will be ecstatic to learn that they may obtain these art pieces upon their removal from the exhibit. Each piece will be eventually transferred to The Free Little Museum store. From there, art fans have the unique opportunity to actually take one of these pieces or even exchange them for one of their personal creations. Both the Little Museum and the Museum Store can be found outside on the Cornell Plaza 24 hours per day.

Despite its size, the Little Museum of Art makes a strong connection to the community — its principles of sharing complement its accessible viewing hours, and the exhibit is even adorned with miniature solar panels for easy nighttime viewing.

As museum-goers approach the exhibit, a myriad of bright colors will immediately reach their eyes. These colors are translated through mediums varying from watercolor to bronze to recycled plastic film. The mixed media art contained in this space challenges the mind’s eye with its varied textures and depth with works from Betsy Tucker, Mia Villani and Chrissy Morgan Gibbons.

A central theme of the Little Museum of Art — at least until Sept. 23, as the exhibit is ever-changing — seems to be nature. Fingertip-sized birds and shocking azure waves by Gibbons and Vidya Ambati, respectively, start the trend. The pastoral views of Julia Kindred also effectively simulate nature in a calming, palm-sized way. However, the details on the paper and canvas aren’t lacking. The deep skies curl onto each edge of the canvas, taking advantage of the small space they’re allowed.

Zhiwen Xu’s colored pencil and ink on paper is also particularly striking. The sheer amount of color thrown onto this tiny piece of paper is outstanding. If viewers stand close enough, they may see chartreuse mixing into vermilion, indigo into aquamarine. All colors are broken up by perfectly random lines of ink, with what appears to be flecks of copper scattered throughout.

Viewers and artists alike may understandably want to get involved in this innovative museum. If so, they may contact Lisa Jevack at laj2m@virginia.edu.