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Exhibition Spotlight: Eric Standley's "The Lesson of Atticus"

Thursday, March 26, 2020

2:00pm - 2:15pm

Blacksburg, Virginia-based artist Eric Standley is known for the intricate yet powerful work he creates using materials such as paper and PVC. 

In one of his newer works, The Lesson of Atticus, the compositional organization was informed by specific elements of Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The character Mrs. Dubose - who was addicted to morphine - vowed to rid herself of the drug in order to die a free woman. Atticus Finch had Jem read to Mrs. Dubose seeminly as a punishment, but truly it was a lesson about liberty and purpose. 

Atticus explained this to Jem:

"She had her own views about things, a lot different from mine, maybe ... I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all 98 pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."

The 34 layers in The Lesson of Atticus are direct negotiations of discipline and improvisation under an underriding purpose, inspired by Atticus and Mrs. Dubose denouncing external pressures to sway them from their principles and purpose. Their freedoms were achieved through courage and discipline, a theme that Lee highlights repeatedly in small details and holistically throughout the text.

We hope you enjoy this exhibition spotlight of Eric Standley's special work!


Eric Standley (American, born 1968), The Lesson of Atticus (detail), 2019, PVC, paper, Courtesy of the Artist