Colgate Alumni Collect: Painting a global perspective

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A British iPad drawing, beaded Cameroonian sculpture, battle helmet–turned-lyre, and an Impressionist oil painting all may have been created oceans apart, but these works have come together in Hamilton, N.Y. They’re four of many pieces on display in the Picker Art Gallery’s exhibition Colgate Alumni Collect, which merges the artistic mindsets of four alumni who collect artwork from around the globe.

Flag #49: A Time of Anxiety, from the series Flags, 2010, Sara Rahbar Mixed media, 65 × 35 in. (165 × 89 cm) Private collection of Oscar ’83 and Carole Seikaly, Miami, FL © Sara Rahbar, courtesy of Carbon 12 and the artist

Flag #49: A Time of Anxiety, from the series Flags, 2010, Sara Rahbar. Mixed media, 65 × 35 in. (165 × 89 cm). Private collection of Oscar ’83 and Carole Seikaly, Miami, Fla. © Sara Rahbar, courtesy of Carbon 12 and the artist

Paul Jacobs ’67, Rick Stone ’81, Oscar Seikaly ’83, and Anne Huntington ’07 lent pieces from their private collections for the exhibition, on view until July 2. The pieces range from tribal antiquities, like the Ghanaian goldweights of Jacobs’ collection (above), to modern mixed-media pieces from Seikaly’s selections (right). The show also features artworks from the Picker’s permanent collection.

“We wanted to highlight that these collectors all have Colgate in common, and yet the art that they’ve collected is from around the world,” said Natalie Ramirez ’19, an art history and classical studies double major from Glendora, Calif. “A global perspective permeates throughout the show.”

Ramirez, along with Natalie Bryt ’17, Kally Mott ’17, and Julia Wolf ’17, curated the exhibition during the academic year by interviewing the collectors, writing the catalogue, and carefully selecting pieces for the show. The students and alumni worked in teams of two: Ramirez and Seikaly, Bryt and Stone, Mott and Jacobs, and Wolf and Huntington.

“This unique student-driven project offered our students the opportunity to be mentored by professionals in the field to learn about the museum profession and to engage directly with alumni collectors and their works,” said Director of University Museums Anja Chávez. “The alumni collectors enthusiastically embraced the idea of sharing their passion for the arts and their collecting principles.”

After Bryt, Mott, and Wolf graduated in May, Ramirez stayed on campus to perfect the finishing touches of the exhibition, including the final layout of the pieces. Ramirez explained that they organized the art by collector, so that each section represented each alumnus’s or alumna’s style.

Stone, who lent some of his American Impressionist paintings and contributed financial support to the exhibition, said: “You really see how people have completely different tastes in art, and that’s OK. The part of life that you learn after graduating college is expressing yourself.”

The student-alumni collaborations of Colgate Alumni Collect were so successful that the Picker is already planning future exhibitions.

Encouraging other alumni to participate, Stone said, “Contributing art is a great way to make sure it’s protected and preserved in a university.”