Wake Forest University Student Art Buying Trip


[MUSIC PLAYING] This collection has been
curated by students over time who care deeply about this
collection and about art, and that each trip strongly
represents a period in time in American culture. And I think that’s one of
the most fascinating things about this. Is that from the ’60s
forward, every trip tells a story
about where America was at that point in time
and where our students were at that point in time. And now as we get– oh my gosh, 50 something years
into this collection right– you’ve got this great
long story of the history of America told through these
wonderful pieces of art. [MUSIC PLAYING] Students go into this
process with one prompt from the leaders of the trip. That is to buy art that is
quote “reflective of the times.” Whatever that means. And students really
do wrestle with that. Will a future buying trip be
thinking about Black Lives Matter or HB2– House Bill 2– and these other
very contentious political issues of the time. Will the artworks reflect that? Will they try to make
that reflect that? And so I think for them
value is much more trying to have these artworks, not
only speak to the circle moment or speak to other
art objects, but also how do these artworks
reflect their experiences. It’s a tall order. It’s a very intimidating
thing to do– for someone to be like all right,
go buy a work of art. We would go through what we
had experienced during the day. And we would compare notes
and we would argue and debate. OK, let’s strike that one off,
and let’s keep these three on. And we would look at the slides
that the gallery sent us. We would have meetings. We would discuss
various artists. And we would talk about
some of the things that we were thinking about
purchasing on the trip. Once we got a list
we were happy with, we started contacting galleries. Which is kind of intimidating,
because you explain the trip– we’re seven students from
a school in North Carolina, we would like to buy a work
of art from your gallery– and they don’t
always believe you. I think I had to call a gallery
three times before they really took us seriously. By the end of the trip, these
same students are on the phone in Chelsea, trying to
bargain with gallerists about trying to get
one more work of art with the allotted funds. And you see that growth
through the experience of research and
collecting, and really thinking deeply about art. These students have
been empowered. And so you start to
realize that you’ve got this really big
responsibility to not screw it up. You need to pick really powerful
meaningful work that’s going to stand the test of time. That’s a little intimidating.

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