Faculty Art Acquisitions: Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery Builds Collection

The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery recently took a significant step forward in its goal of building its collection of art by present and past faculty. The gallery’s advisory group, led by director Mary Davis MacNaughton ’70, voted unanimously last fall to begin by acquiring art pieces by Albert Stewart and Nancy Macko.

The work by Stewart is a multi-part sculpture of a family of snails, circa 1945, and was donated by Nancy Y. Bekavac. Stewart, a member of the art faculty from 1939 until his death in 1965, was best known for large public sculptures. Many works by him grace the Scripps campus, such as “Eternal Primitive” (1965) and “Fawn Fountain” (1952). He was less known for his smaller works of animals. However, according to MacNaughton, “He was one of the finest animal sculptors. He had the ability to capture the animal’s character in its contour and form.”

The second acquisition, through the Jean and Arthur Ames Fund, is two digital prints by Professor of Art Nancy Macko, titled “Nirvana for Now” and “Amazonrose 4” from the Our Very Lives series, 2004. According to Macko, this body of work is meant to evoke and call upon ancient matriarchal spirits and “a time when there might have been a greater sense of the feminine in the world.” Underlying this work is also a theme of aging, as Macko’s mother suffered a stroke and memory loss during the time Macko was creating the series in France. “It was really gratifying to have my work acquired by the gallery,” she said. Professor Macko started the digital arts program at Scripps in 1986 and continues to direct and teach in it.

This fall the gallery also acquired, through a donation from Heidi Overturf, a painting by Susan Hertel ’52, titled “Clare’s Room,” circa 1975, that depicts her daughter’s bedroom in Glendora and her cats.”Animals are the primary characters in her art,” said MacNaughton.”This piece is a great addition to our collection.”The College also has several other works in its permanent collection by Hertel, who studied at Scripps under Millard Sheets. One such work is a large tapestry in the Glanville Dining Room of the Malott Commons.

The gallery will continue to pursue acquisitions of past and present faculty art and welcomes donations in this area. MacNaughton commented: “Built by studio faculty who are also practicing artists, the visual arts program at Scripps has a rich history. It is fitting that the College have outstanding examples of their work, and it is our goal to add key pieces to our collection.To that end, we are interested in gifts and acquisition funds.”

The gallery has a permanent collection of approximately 7,500 art objects, spanning 3,000 years of art from a wide array of cultures. Objects from the collection are used in classes for teaching purposes, displayed in campus exhibitions, and loaned to other institutions for exhibition worldwide. The permanent collection, which has been electronically catalogued by the gallery’s data specialist, Krista Coquia, can be viewed on the web by going to http://web-kiosk.scrippscollege.edu/Kiosk/mainmenu.htm.


Charissa Okamoto contributed to this article.