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Artists Collect Art: Belmont faculty display personal collections

The theme of the night was collections, the Leu Center faculty gathered in Gallery 121 Thursday evening to share what they considered worthy of “putting on the wall.”

Curated by sculpting professor John Watson, “Artists Collect Art” was an art show centered on the private collections of art professors at Belmont. The show covered a wide variety of mediums from sandstone statues of Hindu goddesses to a laminated paper deck of handmade Star Wars Uno cards.

The underlying theme was one of personal significance and inspiration.

“The process for me was to go into these peoples’ houses or their offices or their laptops to have conversations about what’s important to them,” Watson said. “It’s a variety of work, a mix. If you know any of us, though, I think the collection reflects us very well.”

Each work displayed holds meaning unique to its owner. Some, like the found photographs of assistant photography professor Rebecca Drolen, reflect the interest of the collector in their own art. But many were the result of relationships with other artists: friends, family, colleagues, teachers and students.

Assistant professor of graphic design James Pierce has unique experience with this, as one of his displayed pieces— a print entitled “Moon Falcon”—was procured in exchange for his web-building services. He encourages others to consider such trade a means of support among fellow creators.

“As artists, it’s great to trade with other artists. Early on, you don’t have a lot of money, but you do have time to do work,” Pierce said.

Others, such as painting professor Jim Meanders, use their collections to teach their students more about the crafts of the past. Meanders’s contribution to the show— a 16-piece spread of some of his favorite classic vinyl album artwork — is usually housed in his office, where he is able to show students what design was like before the widespread use of computers.

“This is what I like students to see when they come to my office. Not my art, but that art that can be used in a different way,” Meanders said.

And some of the collections, like the 20-piece sampling of drawing professor David Ribar’s collection of rhinoceros statuettes, have a more sentimental significance. Ribar began collecting the figures at 14 after being inspired by Albrecht Dürer’s 1515 woodcut of the animal. Among those displayed are his first rhino sculpture and a blood jade version that was a gift from his wife.

Ribar stresses the idea of collecting, saying it provides for “an opportunity to lighten up” and to pursue something that one finds interesting or beautiful.

“I think that everybody should collect something. If you are creatively or artistically inclined, you have to,” Ribar said.

“Artists Collect Art” will be on display at the Leu Center for Visual Arts until Oct. 29.

The next Gallery 121 exhibit will be the Annual Student Art Show. It will be on display from Nov. 12 to Dec. 2.

Article and Photos by Riley Wallace

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