2024 student art-acquisition trip selections unveiled

Wake Forest’s student art-buying trip is unique in higher education. Every four years since 1963, students have chosen artwork for the University. Four generations over six decades have created a premier collection of contemporary artworks – the Mark H. Reece Collection of Student-Acquired Contemporary Art.

In addition to their majors and minors in art, the eight-student team included studies in mathematics, communication, computer science, religious studies, marketing, economics, Arabic, statistics and social justice.

The group focused its research on continuing to diversify the Reece Collection by adding underrepresented artists into the collection. They were also intentional in choosing works using a variety of mediums and materials, said Jennifer Finkel, Acquavella Curator of the University’s Art Collections.

“Since the beginning of the collection, students have been charged to purchase works that they feel ‘reflect the times.’ The eight artworks the students selected this year engage with contemporary challenges and social justice, particularly as seen through the eyes of female, Indigenous and traditionally marginalized artists who are at the center of these critical discussions,” said Finkel.

A required contemporary art class helped the group prepare for the trip to New York where they made selections on the University’s behalf.  The students researched more than 300 artists before narrowing it down to 20 works they planned to see during their three-day trip.

On the last day in New York, after walking miles around the city, riding the subway from gallery to gallery, talking with artists, and having informal discussions about each work with one another, the group met to decide how to invest its $100,000 budget. The works chosen required a majority vote.

“We are very different people in terms of what we value and see as great art,” said Jason Najjar, a senior art history and economics double major. “It was a real process to come together as a group. And more than anything else, I learned how to work in a group and come to a single outcome where everyone was happy with the choices we made.”

The students take seriously the charge to select works that build a collection for future generations of Wake Foresters that captures their moment in history.

“Knowing that the artwork we chose will be here long after I’m gone is a surreal experience. I’ll never know exactly what the impact of the work we acquired will be, but we paid close attention to what students have not been represented here on campus so far in the collection. We wanted to fill those gaps.” said junior art history and communication double major Georgia-Kathryn Duncan.

The works unveiled

Click on the arrows to view the new acquisitions purchased for the Mark H. Reece Collection of Student-Acquired Contemporary Art.

“Summer Bloom, 2023” by Melissa Cody

Jacquard wool tapestry, fringe aniline dyed wool
53 x 24
Courtesy Garth Greenan Gallery

Listen to students share about the works they chose.

An exhibition of the 2024 art acquisitions for the Reece Collection of Contemporary Art will be held this fall at Wake Forest University’s Hanes Art Gallery.

The free Bloomberg Connects app is available for download from Google Play or the App Store. Guides within can be used off-site or on-site as a hands-free audio or visual guide to all of Wake Forest University’s art collections. In addition to the University’s permanent collection of contemporary art, the app showcases the University’s recent donations and new acquisitions and provides a self-guided tour of Wake Forest’s public art collection. A section on integrating art into curricular and co-curricular activities to enhance teaching and learning is also included on the site.