George Tooker (1920-2011), the first artist nominated by the Vermont Arts Council, was a man and artist of great contrasts. While energetically engaged in dramatic, real world social causes such as the Civil Rights Movement, his artistic works stress form over emotion to serve as a political and social statements about the anonymity, social alienation, mass production and confinement of modern life. His main themes – love, death, sex, empathy, aging, alienation, and religious belief – portray universal human experiences, but without direct emotional expression. His warm colors – created out of his own hand-crafted paint pigments – and occasionally empathetic figures in his “private” pieces belie the vision in his portrayals of modern “public” life as sterile, ambiguous, and oppressive. Yet, he resolves the contrasts and contradictions in a body of works created over a lifetime that blend and juxtapose the apparently antagonistic notions of collective anonymity and individual humanity in works that are simply beautiful even if depicting “ugly” subject matter. See more works of Tooker here.