Elon Art Collection: Maud Gatewood
First in an occasional series on the collections, artists or groupings of objects in the Elon Art Collection.
Maud Gatewood is the first in a series of articles to be written for the E-net community in hopes of bringing attention and recognition to the Elon Art Collection and aspects of its multifaceted nature. Gatewood’s original works, as well as curios from her world travels, make up a significant portion of the Elon Art Collection. Each article will focus on a collector, artist or grouping of objects that provides a distinctive lens through which to learn about the collection.
Submitted by Elon students Elizabeth Capel and Rhiannon Clark
The legacy of local artist and traveler Maud Gatewood at Elon includes: art objects, textiles, and other pieces of material culture from her global journeys in addition to original artworks by Gatewood. Often categorized as a regional artist, the label can prevent an understanding of her work as complex and transcendent of geographic and demographic boundaries.
Gatewood’s work is often said to include subject matter focusing on the human condition. For example, Ruth K. Beesch, former director of the Weatherspoon Museum at Gatewood’s alma mater University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has written about the “uneasiness of the human condition” which Gatewood often portrays. In the documentary of Gatewood’s life, Gatewood: Facing the White Canvas, the film highlights her determination and creative processes. Regarding the presence of individuals in her work, Gatewood reveals that "[she] think[s] it helps to see the human condition. One of the reasons I travel is not to see new places but to see [new people]... and when you come home you see your own world differently."
Gatewood was born in 1934 and grew up in Yanceyville, N.C., about 30 miles from Elon’s campus. She received a degree in the Fine Arts from Women’s College, which has since been renamed UNC-Greensboro. Gatewood studied art in Austria through a Fulbright grant in 1963. Her art is influenced by many factors, undoubtedly her art education as well as her homosexuality and travel experiences. She died in 2004.
At Elon, Gatewood is primarily remembered as a North Carolina artist whose original work and collection make up a large part of the university’s art collection and artistic legacy. Some examples on Elon’s Campus of Gatewood’s artwork include Untitled (Landscape) in Belk Pavilion, three paintings in the Belk Writing Center: Untitled (Figure in Blue Shirt), Dark Rococo, and Self Portrait with Drawing Board, and two in the Multicultural Center in the Moseley Campus Center: Georgia Jones in the Morning and Austria Drawing # 2. Other examples of Gatewood’s original art can be found in the Alamance Building and Lindner Hall. In most cases, these buildings also display objects that are reflective of her travels.
Gatewood’s work also has been exhibited at numerous locations along the East Coast, including the North Carolina Museum of Art.
"She has a gentle love of the world around her, she may be critical of it at certain times, and certainly condemn the politics of it at times, but she always returns to her love of the land and the love of nature around her, and a fundamental caring of people,” Larry Wheeler, director of the North Carolina Museum of Art, said in Gatewood: Facing the White Canvas. “That's why people respond to her work.”
Gradual efforts are being made to increase visibility of Gatewood’s art on campus, including a planned ArtWalk or other event featuring Gatewood in Fall 2012.