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Sweet Briar College Art Gallery

Inside of the Anne Gary Pannell Center at Sweet Briar College
 
Sweet Briar College is located in Lynchburg, Virginia. It is an Art college for women. The idea of Sweet Briar was created by Indiana Fletcher Williams in 1900, due to the death of her daughter in 1884. At that time, she left her estate to found an institute that consisted of more than a million dollars, and over 8,000 acres of land, including the Sweet Briar plantation. In 1906, the institution formally became Sweet Briar College with 66 students attending and the first president was Mary K. Benedict. Currently, the president is Jo Ellen Parker, who is the 10th president of Sweet Briar; her office serves as the central point for information and inquiries involving all facets of the college. In 1978 the Virginia Center for Creative Arts opened in a nearby estate and today it is one of the foremost artist retreats in Virginia. The building that housed the Sweet Briar art collection was formerly a dining hall, however it was renovated in 1984 to house valuable and fragile art collections.
                It is always useful to have an art gallery when you are an art student, and students of Sweet Briar College are really fortunate. The collection is broad: from Francisco Goya, Rembrandt, Albrecht Dürer to modern and contemporary art, including artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, for example. From the more classic artists they mostly have drawings, however for modern artists, the variety of works is broad: from paintings to installations.
               What is interesting about the collection is that the museum focuses on the acquisition of female artists, Sweet Briar College being a college for empowerment of women. For example, they have some works by the artist Louise Bourgeois. Bourgeois’s works are on display at Smithsonian Institution at Washington DC, and her exhibition was held at Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. With these credentials she for sure can be called a word-famous contemporary artist. Miriam Schapiro is another example of a contemporary female artist. She can even be called a pioneer in the field of feminist art. Her works are a mixture of different styles and colors, all expressing her unique vision of life.
 

Benedict Hall Gallery
 
            The college buildings are also worth paying attention to. Sweet Briar architecture is dominated by works of Ralph Adams Cram, from the firm of Cram, Goodhue and Fergusson. Cram also designed buildings in Princeton, MIT, Wellesley, Rice, and West Point. His style was indicative of the style popular in the early twentieth century, which was based on Roman style building, many of its building similar to the Pantheon. Today, thirty campus buildings have been placed on the national registry for historic places.
            As for the website we found it useful enough to have a glance at what is going on at Sweet Briar Art Collection. Some highlights of a permanent collection are presented with a photo and text, some are just mentioned. There is a profile on sixteen artists and it provides the origins of the artists and shows an image to exemplify their work. You can also see details on current exhibitions being displayed at the university and how one can reach a member of the faculty to know more about the projects. All in all we like the manner in which the website is done; all important information is displayed there.

Arina Okorokova & Kehinde Odusanya

Sweet Briar College Art Gallery