Cultivating Collections is a multi-year series of exhibitions that highlights specific areas of the WCU Fine Art Museum’s Collection, which includes over 1,800 works of art in a wide range of media by artists of the Americas. As the Museum’s holdings increase, either through donations or purchases, it is essential for the Museum to evaluate strengths, identify key acquisition areas, and also pinpoint where significant change is needed.
Above: Kenneth Noland, Reef, acrylic on canvas, 1969, 44 x 164.25 inches, Gift of the Artist
This year, Cultivating Collections reflects on three areas of the Collection—paintings, ceramics, and works by Latinx and Latin American artists. Key works in each area come together to tell the story of past, present, and future collecting directions.
Above: Digali’i Native American Student Organization in collaboration with Joel Queen, We only want to be seen as human, 2009, pottery and recycled satellite dish, 75 inches diameter, Gift of the Digali’i Native American Student Organization.
Museums preserve objects of visual, historical, and cultural significance, and serve as sites of conversation, and sometimes controversy. Through their collections, museums write histories and play a role in determining what our society remembers, whose stories are told, and what objects are deemed worthy of consideration. To a large degree, their collections speak to what society values. When social norms and structures are called into question, museums are often sites where this questioning plays out.
THEIR COLLECTIONS MUST CHANGE AS SOCIETY’S VALUES CHANGE.
In our current era, many museums, including the WCU Fine Art Museum, openly recognize that their collections do not equitably reflect the important contributions of women, artists of color, and other marginalized groups. This shortcoming makes it even more critical for the curatorial team to continually re-evaluate the Museum’s objects and pursue acquisitions that improve equity and inclusion.
Above: Cristina Córdova, Sortilegio, clay, charcoal, and mixed media on acid-free cardboard, 2016, 82 x 60 inches, Museum purchase, Image courtesy of the artist.
To engage students in the process of reviewing the Collection, the Museum’s Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Carolyn Grosch, worked with her Exhibition Practicum class to develop, Cultivating Collections: Paintings. Students selected works to display, interviewed artists, wrote labels, and evaluated strengths and opportunities for the paintings collection.
Above: Jane Culp, Narrow Earth Trail, watercolor and pencil on paper, 1993, 22 x 30 inches, Gift of the Artist
Student volunteers in the curatorial department carried out additional research and writing for the exhibition. The Museum would like to thank these students—Victoria Alexander, Jay Brown, Cristina Colom, Jenny Cowan, Olivia Hagan, Chloe Kaylor, Malaika Newsome, Laurel Plyler, Jasmine Reid, Amber Rousseau, and Maya White—for their hard work, curiosity, and curatorial insight.
Please note: due to COVID-19, in-person Museum visits are limited to WCU students, faculty, and staff. We prefer
you make a reservation, although we can accept some walk-ins if the Museum is not at social distancing capacity.
Learn more about our virtual group tour opportunities and other virtual experiences. Additional online opportunities will be made available throughout the fall semester.
If you are a WCU student, faculty, or staff, schedule your in-person visit and review our group tour page for in-person and virtual group tour opportunities.
Thursday, Sep. 2 at 12PM
Cultivating Collections Video Gallery Tour and Live Virtual Q&A with Museum Curator,
Thursday, Oct. 8 at 12PM
Cultivating Collections: Latinx and Latin American Artists | Details TBD
Thursday, Nov. 5 at 12PM
Cultivating Collections: Ceramics | Details TBD