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Alice McMechen, Collector, Papers of Artist Alvena V. Seckar

 Collection
Collection Number: A&M.4428

Content Description

Papers of artist and author Alvena V. Seckar, collected by her friend Alice McMechen. Collection includes newspaper and magazine articles regarding Seckar's later years after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and taught herself how to paint with her (non-dominant) left hand. In addition, there is material regarding "Jewels of Memory", a work-in-progress by Seckar about her mother's life, and regarding Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, which re-issued Seckar's earlier works and would have published "Jewels". There are also illustrated invitations to Seckar's birthday parties, correspondence, photographs, artworks, and copies of two of Seckar's books.

Contents List:
box 1, folder 1; correspondence from Seckar to Alice McMechen; 1973, 2008, undated
box 1, folder 2; 2 photographs of Seckar in traditional Slovakian costume; ca. 2000
box 1, folder 3; illustrated invitations to Seckar’s birthday parties and other events; 1996, 2000, 2002, undated
box 1, folder 4; newspaper and magazine articles regarding Seckar; 1957, 1979-2000
box 1, folder 5; copy of a letter from McMechen to Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, regarding Seckar; undated
box 1, folder 5; article written by Seckar regarding Julius Rosenberg; 1996
box 1, folder 6; Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers advertisements regarding Seckar’s books and Slovak books; ca. 1997
box 1, folder 7; computer printout of “Jewels of Memory”, Seckar’s biography of her mother; undated
box 1, folder 8; copy of “Zuska of the Burning Hills” with dust-jacket; 1952
box 1, folder 9; copy of “Misko”; 1956
box 1, folder 10; 5 small pieces of artwork by Seckar; 1945, 1970, undated
box 1, folder 10; 4 photographs of paintings by Seckar; 2003, undated
box 1, folder 11; pencil sketch “Jane Street, Greenwich Village” by Seckar; ca. 1950
box 1, folder 12; lithograph version of Winifred Lubell’s woodcut “Harriet Tubman”; undated

Dates

  • 1945-1957, 1973-2008, undated

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

Biographical / Historical

Alvena Seckar was born in McMechen, West Virginia to first-generation immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia in 1915. Her father was a coal miner and the family moved frequently around the coal fields of West Virginia and Pennsylvania during her childhood. Seckar's artistic talents were recognized while she was in school and she was able to attend college, first studying at the University of Pennsylvania. She then transferred to the Institue of Fine Arts, New York University. She earned her Bachelor's Degree there in 1939 and her Master's Degree in the History of Fine Arts in 1949. Seckar's artwork drew inspiration from her coal field childhood, depicting working class people and landscapes with sympathy by without any attempt to "prettify" her subjects. She was also inspired by her travels in post-World War II Europe, where she visited the Eastern Europe of her parent's heritage. Seckar considered herself a politically conscious artist and took part in the Civil Rights Movement, anti-nuclear movement, and other causes. Seckar came to her second career as a writer almost by accident. She was initially interested in illustrating children's books, but after receiving several rejections, decided to write a book of her own. Like her artwork, her books drew from her childhood experiences living in the coal fields. "Zuska of the Burning Hills" and "Mischko" tell stories of children living in coal towns from Eastern European immigrant families, while "Trapped in the Old Mine" is a science-fiction story for young readers. Seckar continued to write, paint, and exhibit her artwork throughout her life. Even when, later in life, she developed multiple sclerosis, which crippled her right hand, Seckar continued to paint and write, even teaching herself to paint with her left hand. Seckar had been working on a novel regarding the lives of her grandmother, mother, and herself -- tentatively titled "Jewels of Memory" -- which was not published before her death. Seckar passed away on 7 March 2012 in her long-time home of Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.

Extent

.3 Linear Feet (4 in. (document case))

Overview

Papers of artist and author Alvena V. Seckar, collected by her friend Alice McMechen. Collection includes newspaper and magazine articles; material regarding work-in-progress "Jewels of Memory"; invitations to Seckar's birthday parties, correspondence, photographs, artworks, and copies of two of Seckar's books.

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL: https://wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu/

Related Materials

556, 903, 2002, 4204, 4428

Creator

Title
Alice McMechen, Collector, Papers of Artist Alvena V. Seckar
Author
Laureen Wilson
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

Contact:
1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US
304-293-3536