WFU student art purchases unveiled

Every four years since 1963, a small group of students has traveled to New York City, with University funds, to purchase art for Wake Forest’s Student Union art collection. They are charged with choosing works that reflect the times.

Due to the restricted travel and social distancing requirements that came with Covid-19 in 2020-21, in-person gallery visits to New York were impossible. Instead, the 13 students on the art acquisition team virtually visited galleries nationwide. “Our acquisition committee was able to purchase nine incredible works of art without ever seeing them in person,” said senior Jackie Dishner.

On April 28, the students revealed their selections in a virtual presentation – inviting viewers to see the artwork and learn more about what influenced their choices.

The group’s priority in selecting this year’s art has been adding diversity to the collection. “We were interested in choosing works that told a diverse array of narratives, and wanted the mediums of the pieces themselves to be diverse as well,” said senior Lynn Huffard.

The Student Union Collection of Contemporary Art is the University’s premier and most recognizable collection. Included are paintings, prints, drawings, photography, and sculpture by such notable artists as Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson, Alex Katz, and Robert Colescott – artists whose work reflects the cultural challenges of their times.

“The social context of 2020-2021 has led to artists to work towards speaking out against the structures and hierarchies,” said junior Maddy Barnick. “Artists are using political movements to activate change and inclusivity.”

Unveil the Works of Art

Reveal the works and hear students talk about the new acquisitions purchased for Wake Forest’s Student Union Collection of Contemporary Art.

“In One Fell Swoop” by Suchitra Mattai

Reproduced with permission of the artist.

Student Audio: Mikey Mattone (’21)


An exhibition of the 2021 art acquisitions for the Student Union Collection of Contemporary Art will be held this fall at Wake Forest University’s Hanes Art Gallery.

To learn more about the challenges of buying art during the pandemic, “Art for impact: Students purchase works for WFU to reflect the times” offers insights into how the student art acquisition team navigated the challenges of purchasing art without seeing the works in person.

Three students contributed reflections on art buying during the pandemic, the selection process and what they hope their choices will contribute to the community who will see them.

COVID forced artists to reach their audiences in new ways – by Maddy Barnick

Purchasing art without seeing the works in person – by Jackie Disner

Choosing works that told a diverse array of narratives – by Lynn Huffard