Connecticut College Presents “Revisiting the Nut Museum: Visionary Art of Elizabeth Tashjian”

Elizabeth Tashjian in the Nut Museum, 1975

NEW LONDON, Conn.The Connecticut College Art Department is currently presenting a retrospective of artist Elizabeth Tashjian’s paintings, drawings and sculptures from the 1930s through the late 1990s. “Revisiting the Nut Museum: Visionary Art of Elizabeth Tashjian” opened on Oct. 21 and runs through Dec. 6 at Cummings Art Galleries. 

The exhibition recreates the Nut Museum’s main exhibition gallery with all of its original furnishings, art and displays. It also features a compilation of the “Nut Lady’s” media appearances on national television. Organized and curated by Professor Christopher Steiner and students from his advanced seminar, the exhibition features a comprehensive view of Elizabeth Tashjian’s artistic vision over the course of her nearly 70-year career. 

Born in 1912 in New York City, Tashjian’s artistic interest in nuts began shortly after her arrival at the National Academy of Design, where she painted both nut still-lifes and highly magnified cross-sections of nuts. After moving to Old Lyme, Connecticut with her mother in 1950, Tashjian became active in the Lyme Art Association, where she often exhibited her work. On a whim in April 1972, Tashjian opened the Nut Museum. The museum was housed on the ground floor of her sprawling 19th-century Victorian mansion on Ferry Road. The home’s dining room served as the main exhibition gallery and featured Tashjian’s nut paintings, as well as a collection of nuts, nutcrackers and nut-related memorabilia.

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Although the Nut Museum’s original mission was to highlight the beauty of nuts as depicted in Tashjian’s art, the museum’s scope soon expanded. “As creator and curator of the Nut Museum, I became aware that some people have a load considering themselves to be a nut,” said Tashjian. “So, my motives changed. I set out to remove the demerit marks from the word ‘nut.’ My painting then used the power of art to make social commentary.”

In 1981, Tashjian appeared on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Her success with Carson led to scores of other talk show appearances, including interviews with David Letterman, Jay Leno, Howie Mandel, Roseanne Barr and Howard Stern. Tashjian’s television performances generally included a rendition of one of her songs: Nuts Are Beautiful (1973) or the March of the Nuts (1978).

Elizabeth Tashjian in the Nut Museum, 1990s

Under Professor Steiner’s stewardship, Connecticut College was entrusted to preserve approximately 150 paintings, 200 drawings, 20 sculptures, 100 boxes of documents and photographs, and all furniture and displays from the museum portion of the house. 

Gallery hours for the fall are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 1–4 p.m. Galleries are not open to the public during breaks (Sept. 29–Oct 1; Oct. 9, and Nov. 26–Dec. 1).

About Connecticut College

Founded in 1911, Connecticut College is a highly selective private liberal college located on a 750-acre arboretum campus overlooking Long Island Sound and the Thames River. Our innovative educational approach, Connections, integrates everything our 1,800 students experience here—classes, majors, study abroad, internships, residence hall and campus life—so they learn how to look at problems from multiple angles and find value in differing points of view. Our mission is to educate students to put the liberal arts into action as citizens in a global society. For more information, see www.conncoll.edu or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. 

This article is a press release submitted to the Armenian Weekly.  If your organization has news it would like to submit to the paper for consideration, please email editor@armenianweekly.com.
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