A new exhibit at East Carolina University will feature the work of faculty going back to the early days of the School of Art and Design.
The exhibit, “110 Years of Excellence: In Memoriam,” opens Wednesday, May 23 and includes artwork by late faculty members and university notables such as Francis Speight, Wellington Gray and Leo Jenkins.
Maria Modlin, curator of the exhibit, has assembled information and artwork from the families of more than 25 faculty artists. Modlin is still seeking pieces from a few people, including Kate Lewis, who taught the first art classes at ECU and lived to age 92.
A painting by Francis Speight, who served as ECU’s first artist-in-residence in the School of Art and Design, will be featured in the exhibit, “110 Years of Excellence: In Memoriam.”
The exhibit will feature information about or the work of Joe Buske, Wesley Crawley, Francis P. Daugherty, Robert Edmiston, Sara Edmiston, Ray Elmore, Tom Evans, Abdul Shakoor Farhadi, Emily Farnham, Gray, Tran Gordley, Marilyn Gordley, Art Haney, Paul Hartley, William Holley, Leon Jacobson, Jenkins, Richard Laing, Kate Lewis, Francis Neel, Betty Petteway, Edward Reep, Priscilla Roetzel, Speight, John Satterfield and Donald Sexauer.
“All the families have been very helpful in loaning us artwork,” Modlin said. “The families are very excited. This is the first time we’ve honored the artists in this manner.”
ECU’s art program — under longtime art education director Holley and school director Gray — grew quickly to the most comprehensive in the state and one of the largest on the East Coast with nationally-known, talented faculty members, said art historian Michael Duffy, who has written the forward for the exhibit booklet.
“They all had a place,” Duffy said. “There’s really a tradition here.”
The idea for the exhibit came after the deaths last year of longtime art professors Haney, who taught ceramics and served as associate dean, and Elmore, who was featured in 2015 at the Greenville Museum of Art with a retrospective of his work. Haney and Elmore died within weeks of each other. “We were all just stunned,” Modlin said.
Modlin hopes current students and visitors to the exhibit “see the past and the famous faculty and the artwork they did and the changes that have occurred in the styles of art over the past century.”
For example, Satterfield made intricate brooches and necklaces juxtaposed with fanciful coffee and server piece designs, Modlin said. “Everyone had their playful side and their serious side that they indulged,” she said.
Hartley, who painted in acrylics and oils and sometimes a combination of pastels and pencils, was known for his abstract style. But included in the exhibit is a realistic painting of his grandfather. “It’s a beautiful piece,” Modlin said. “It was very different from anything he painted.”
The exhibit, which will be on display through June 29, will kick off a two-year series spotlighting sculpture, painting, printmaking, metals, watercolor, ceramics, glass and more. A public reception will be held 5-8 p.m. June 1 in Gray Gallery.
Next year, the school will feature retired faculty members in the series to celebrate 110 years of art instruction at ECU.
Left to right, Tom Braswell and Holly Roddenbery prepare to hang artwork by late faculty members in ECU’s Gray Gallery.