photo of Avis Fleming Hodge

Avis Fleming Hodge '58

Avis Fleming Hodge goes out of her way to have “encounters with cows.” In the fall of 1995 she had an art exhibit by that name at George Washington University’s Virginia campus. On display were paintings, lithographs and dry points of bovine inspiration. Fleming says that cows, especially in groups, are fun for her to draw and paint. “they have mass and movement, intriguing skeletal systems, dramatic planes, rich colors and engaging expressions.”

Fleming’s interest in drawing domestic animals in rural landscapes led her to a fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Sweet Briar, VA in 1986, and from there to the Butterland Farm in Middleburg, VA. When she is not on her farm, she teaches at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA.

Fleming says she likes mixed herds of beef cattle (Black Angus, Herefords and Charolais) because of their color and pattern changes. Holsteins feature abstracts expressionist markings, she says, while Jerseys have beautiful eyes and kind faces.

One of the things that impresses Hodge the most about these bucolic beauties is their relationship to their pasture. She explained, “Here in Virginia Piedmont Country, cows and calves can interact on these gentle slopes with trees, gullies, grass, streams and fences to create a space where animal and landscape are interwoven.” The painter’s presence, she concluded, is felt both as the observer and the observed.

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