Story by Brenna McCallum
When Scott Avett was a college student at East Carolina University (ECU) in the late 90s, he would often make the hour and a half drive to Raleigh to wander the galleries of the North Carolina Museum of Art. He found himself captivated, not by the modern and contemporary works, but by the European Old Master collections that displayed 17th century Italian, Spanish, and Flemish paintings.
Avett’s experience at ECU was formative, something he referred to later as a period in his life where he knew that: “Making things…being an artist was just who I was. I can’t say enough about East Carolina University and the art program there. I would recommend it to anyone that loves making, and loves visual art.”
Twenty years later (and two weeks ago), Avett found himself leading an artist’s talk through these very same rooms and halls, giving a behind-the-scenes look at the work of his first solo exhibition: INVISIBLE.
Family remains a constant and evolving theme that centers itself in both Avett’s visual and musical work with his band The Avett Brothers. INVISIBLE’s defining feature is its larger-than-life portraits of Avett, his wife, Sarah, and their three children. Taken as a whole, the exhibition provides a vulnerable, emotional, and tender depiction of modern family life.
Much like the period from which the paintings Avett so admires hail, he seems to embody the quintessential definition of a Renaissance Man. From music and songwriting to oil paintings and prints, Avett has always worked in multiple mediums. He’s created the cover art for several of The Avett Brothers albums, and most recently for Brandi Carlile’s Grammy Award-winning album By the Way, I Forgive You..
In what feels like kismet, a piece of Avett’s work can be found hanging outside the bounds of his exhibition space. Nestled in with the Flemish classics, the painting used for the cover of The Avett Brother’s album I and Love and You hangs next to a work so similar in style that one might not notice anything was out of place but for the tombstone identifying it as an Easter egg from the INVISIBLE exhibition.
NCMA curator Linda Dougherty decided to hang the work amongst the museum’s permanent collection as a playful surprise for visitors, as well as in homage to Avett’s avid admiration for the classics.
Scott Avett: INVISIBLE will be on display at the North Carolina Museum of Art now through February 2, 2020. Learn more here.