Faculty, staff encouraged to display Elon Art Collections

A portion of the Elon Art Collections is available for faculty and staff to display in their work areas.

Jessica Russell, an administrative assistant in Elon College, the College of Arts and Science, has two paintings from the university’s General Collection hanging in her office in Lindner Hall.


Pieces of the Elon Art Collections are displayed throughout campus.

Seven distinct collections and hundreds of pieces, ranging from modern steel sculptures to antelope headdresses, are part of the overall collections.

The most visible art is the Portrait Collection that includes dozens of commissioned and donated works of prominent members of the university, including past Elon presidents.

From portraits to sculpture, international art, textiles, masks and utilitarian items, the Elon Art Collections is sizable, yet the majority of it is in storage. Ethan Moore, the coordinator of the collections, wants that to change.

“It’s difficult to promote something like an art collection,” Moore says. “I would love to have students and faculty engage with the work.”

Only about 30 to 40 percent of the collection is currently on display. In some cases, it’s because the work isn’t framed or suitable for viewing. However, there are many pieces that Moore would like to make visible and encourages faculty and staff to consider incorporating it into their work areas.

“If an office wants something for display, I want students to curate the space so it will have more of a critical perspective,” Moore says. “I’m also very open to folks who just want to have pieces in their office. I’d much rather have it out than in storage.”

More than 300 pieces of African art have been donated to the university since 1992.
Some of that collection, which includes work from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana, is on display at Belk Library. Still, many other items from Africa, Asia or Haiti that make up the International Art Collection are available for display.

“These are more than just pretty things,” Moore says.

After Winston-Salem artist Joseph Wallace King, who was also known by his pseudonym Vinciata, died in 1996, he bequeathed about 90 pieces of his work to the university. That collection includes “abstract expressionistic works to brooding landscapes,” Moore says.

Additionally, many portraits make up the King collection. Some of the subjects are known, including one of Queen Elizabeth, a sketch of former President Richard Nixon and a painting of Vernon Rudolph, who founded Krispy Creme doughnuts in Winston-Salem in 1937.

Moore is still working to identify some of the other portraits. A lot of them, including the portrait of Rudolph, don’t necessarily have an Elon connection but are still available for display.

In addition to his paintings, King entertained in clubs and theaters as a ventriloquist and his dummy “Brandywine” that he performed with is also in storage and is part of King’s Manuscript Collection.

The Elon Art Collections also includes the Collection of Regional Artists, featuring the work of artists Maud Gatewood, George Bireline and Andisheh Avini as well as photographer John Giancotti.

The most contemporary art in the collections is the Davidson Print Collection that consists of 42 prints from the Dwight Merrimon Davidson Contemporary Print Exhibition.

There are 13 pieces in the Collection of Public Sculpture some of which is installed in various locations on campus, and the General Collection, which offers a wide range of prints and original oil paintings.

In at least one case, it was discovered that a collection of paintings given to the university weren’t as authentic as one donor was led to believe. As a result, the university has several fake Salvador Dali pieces that are available for display. But Dali’s work is very difficult to replicate, Moore says, so even though they aren’t real, those pieces are unique works.

For more information about the Elon Art Collections and to view what’s available for display contact Moore at ext. 6230 or visit the website. For some of the three-dimensional pieces, display cases are needed.