SECCA to Exhibit Wake Forest University Student Union Collection of Contemporary Art

Free exhibit opens June 30th at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art

by staff

Every four years since 1963, a small group of Wake Forest University undergraduates, under the direction of an art department faculty member, researched the contemporary American art scene and purchased new works for the University on art-buying trips. Now the collection they built will be featured in a major off-campus exhibit, entitled WITH OPEN EYES: 50 YEARS OF ART IDEALISTS, at The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), from June 30 to October 2.

With-Open-Eyes_Web-Image“WITH OPEN EYES is a rare opportunity to experience a uniquely created collection of art that is otherwise housed across the University’s campus,” says SECCA Curator, Cora Fisher. “If you want to see artworks by formidable American and International painters, photographers, printmakers, sculptors, and mixed media artists, you won’t want to miss it.”

Now considered the University’s premier collection, the Student Union Collection of Contemporary Art started as an uncommon experiment in education and entrepreneurship; and has grown over the past 50 years to include more than 160 works that offer far-ranging perspectives on the world through art.

“At Wake Forest we have the great privilege of living and working with the Student Union Collection as part of our everyday experience,” says Wake Forest University Art Collections Curator Heather Childress. “The works in this exhibition illustrate why we consider this our premier Collection and, through this new narrative, we can actively engage an audience that extends beyond the campus community.”

The two-gallery exhibition at SECCA offers a comprehensive, curated look at the collection, its variety and its social histories, spanning half a century of collecting. It will feature over fifty works by artists including Ida Applebroog, Jennifer Bartlett, Paul Cadmus, Robert Colescott, Carroll Dunham, Helen Frankenthaler, Keith Haring, Emily Jacir, Bill Jacobson, Yun-Fei Ji, Jasper Johns, Alex Katz, Ellsworth Kelly, Glenn Ligon, Robert Longo, Christian Marclay, Louise Nevelson, Lari Pittman, Robert Rauschenberg, Collier Schorr, Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith, Do-ho Suh, Thomas Struth, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Jonas Wood.

keith haring
keith haring

Surrounding the exhibit will be a series of programs that bring the art collection to life. These include:

  • Collecting Conversations that invite serious regional collectors of contemporary art to talk about their experiences and share their knowledge.
  • Decade Party! Thursday, August 25th, 6-7:30pm: Come dressed in your favorite decade fashion as we lead a tour through the gallery, highlighting generations of student-selected work from the 1960s to 2010s.
  • Talk@ SECCA: Celebrating 50 Years of WFU Student Art Collectors – Sunday, September 25th, 3-5pm, McChesney Scott Dunn Auditorium. WFU students and faculty bring vivid recollections and stories of their art buying expeditions, looking back and with an eye to the future through a series of panel discussions, followed by a reception.

There is also an opening reception scheduled for June 30th from 6-8pm.

Admission to SECCA is free. The museum is open from 10AM to 5PM Tuesdays through Saturdays and Noon to 5PM on Sunday (closed on Mondays). For more information visit