*A Morehouse College alumnus has gifted the historically black college an art collection worth $1 million. His generosity was in an effort to help diversify the art world.
According to CNN, the collection includes works by McArthur Binion, Rashid Johnson, Amy Sherald, Mickalene Thomas and Ivy Haldeman.
“I will always be grateful for my Morehouse education and the springboard it created for my career on Wall Street and in business, and I want to recognize that with this gift,” Business executive George Wells, 42, said in a statement.
“Owning multiple works by Johnson and Thomas is like owning a piece of history to me. Their practices both showcase black resiliency and triumph but in different ways and from different gender perspectives. It is my hope that this gift will serve as an impetus for furthering racial equality within the art world during this exceptionally vulnerable time for Americans and race relations.”
A @Morehouse College alumnus has gifted the historically black college an art collection worth $1 million in an effort to diversify the world of art.
Let’s celebrate George Wells’ gift! #generosity
Learn more here, https://t.co/JnDtSzMxda
— The Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists (@clarkhulingsorg) December 15, 2020
Wells is the founder of the management consulting firm Wells Groups of New York, which works with start-ups and mid-sized companies in tech, consumer goods and services, and health care, according to the report.
Wells and his husband have been collecting artworks by both emerging and established artists, and their collection has grown to more than 50 pieces.
“I would like to thank George Wells and Manfred Rantner for their generosity,” said Monique Dozier, vice president of institutional advancement at Morehouse, in a statement. “This wonderful contribution from a Morehouse College alumnus celebrates the culture, creativity, intellect, and history of Black people. It also reinforces the importance of investing in the talents of diverse artists. The George Wells Collection will spur academic conversations in our classrooms and be a source of pride for the College, our scholars, alumni, and the Southwest Atlanta community.”
Uzee Brown, the chairman of Morehouse College’s Creative and Performing Arts department, added: “This gift speaks volumes because what it brings to our community. It brings attention to works that have been underrepresented, as it is with many aspects of African American culture,” Brown told CNN. “Not all art by Black artists is political. It’s art made by someone who’s Black, but the subject matter is broad. It’s about love, happiness, the beauty of nature. We need to let that allow that part of the art to breathe.”
“There is nothing wrong with reflecting the voice that come out of a community, it’s important because our art is an expression of life, but we do not need to be as a people of color marginalized to the point where it’s always the assumption, that our struggles will be the basis of our subject matter,” Brown said.
Wells hopes his donation will inspire Blacks creatives to help diversify the art industry, most especially behind-the-scenes.
“Morehouse doesn’t yet have a permanent art collection, so I thought if I could gift this art collection to them, the halo effect and the impact it would have on cultural discourse would be paramount,” Wells told CNN.
“In the art world, there are so few Black people in positions of power, so if we start at the core, which is education, and educate more people about the contemporary art world, we could make that world more inclusive.”