Art Acquired for Planned Arts Center Museum

Progress towards the construction of Western Carolina University’s new Fine and Performing Arts Center museum has been the topic of conversation for many individuals on campus. With plans for a ground-breaking ceremony scheduled for March 8, it is sure to be an event that brings interest and curiosity to reporters, students, and faculty alike.

But another recent announcement makes note of the recent acquisition of five new collections for the center’s permanent art collection.

The newly obtained major works have been collected from artists Sister Corita Kent, Larry Day, Herman Goustin, William Kelly, and Esteban Vicente. These works, acquired through artist, collector, and estate donations, bring the number of objects registered for the center’s museum collection to more than 800 pieces.

Seventeen original serigraphs by Sister Corita Kent were received through a private collector and will be placed in the WCU’s Women’s Study Collection.

Sister Corita Kent was born in Iowa and was educated in an elementary school by the nuns of the Immaculate Heart Order. She also studied at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles and continued her art education by enrolling in a Master’s degree program at the University of Southern California. Sister Corita, who died in 1986, was named the Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year in 1966.

Robert Godfrey, head of the WCU art department, said, “Sister Corita’s subject matter conveys strong social and religious messages. The work acquired for WCU represents the best of Sister Corita’s work from this period.”

The most recent work to be gathered for the permanent collection is by respected realist painter Larry Day, who was an important influence in the Northeast, most notably in Philadelphia. Day is known for his work with modern/realist landscapes. His estate is contributing a major painting and the supporting drawing studies to the WCU collection. Day, who was a visiting artist at WCU, died in 1998.

The estate of New York artist, Herman Goustin, has donated more than 50 black-and-white archival photographs from the artist’s work.

Godfrey commented, “I was simply overwhelmed when I was invited last fall to spend a day in a Harlem storage facility to review thousands of Goustin prints.”

Godfrey selected photographs covering the 30-year period Goustin was active in New York, Paris, and Rome. This collection will be displayed next fall in the Belk Building gallery. It will be available as a study collection for the undergraduate and graduate photography programs.

William Kelly, an American/Australian artist, donated a complete set of lithographs from his “Violence to Non-Violence” series. This work, which was a part of Kelly’s “Prints from the Peace Project,” earned the artist a medal of honor from the Australian prime minister. The only other complete set of these prints is found on permanent view in the Guernica Museum in Spain.

Godfrey said that one of his goals for the future center was to feature a society and humanist art series that will present annual exhibitions dealing with the human condition and the values fundamental to human existence.

Godfrey added, “The Kelly work and the Sister Corita prints fit this museum’s mission regarding this series.”

Esteban Vicente, who recently died a week before his 92nd birthday, is the final artist who will be adding his works to the WCU collection. According to Godfrey, Vicente was a Spanish born artist who made major contributions to American abstract art and color field painting.

When the new museum is completed for WCU, it will consist of four exhibition galleries totaling nearly 5,000 square feet. Also included in the plans are an outdoor sculpture court, a museum shop, a receiving dock, a professional preparation room, and an archival storage room, with all spaces under museum-quality environmental standards.

Godfrey concluded, “The concept of the museum is to present top quality exhibitions ranging from student and alumni work, interpretations of the permanent collection, regional to international featured artists, culturally diverse work, social and humanistic oriented work, and experimental work in all media.”

Certain museum exhibitions will be coordinated with theater and musical events in the adjacent performing arts theater. The museum will operate year-round.