Arts Education Visual Arts

Cultivating Collections: Vitreographs, Glass, Works by Black Artists at Bardo Arts Center

The Devil Came Down to Georgia. Tom Nakashima, artist. Photo courtesy of Littleton Studios

Through Friday, July 29, the Western Carolina University Fine Art Museum at Bardo Arts Center presents the latest installment of its Cultivating Collections multi-year series, which highlights and examines specific parts of the museum’s permanent collection. This year’s exhibition highlights three areas: vitreographs, glass and works by Black artists. “At its heart, Cultivating Collections is an exhibition about stories—the story of how the collection was built, the significance of each artwork and the future of the collection,” says Carolyn Grosch, curator of the museum.

Big South. James Tanner, artist. Photo by WCU Photography Services

Nineteen student researchers from the 2021 and 2022 Exhibition Practicum classes worked with Grosch to curate the exhibition and determine future collecting directions. “The students’ research is a journey of discovery that illuminates these stories,” says Grosch. “I find it thrilling to see the students make connections with the artists and uncover information that we never knew about the museum’s collection. Their efforts lead to a deeper understanding so that we can acquire artwork strategically in the future and ensure a variety of voices are represented in our collection.”

Sandy Willcox was the first master printer at Littleton Studios, where all the vitreographs in the museum’s collection were made. Her vitreograph, Passe-Partout, is on display in the exhibition. “Cultivating Collections: Vitreographs allows artists and art-enthusiasts to notice how similar tools and materials are used to create designs covering a wide range of subject matter and individual expression,” says Willcox. “People bring their unique sensibilities to any aesthetic experience and exhibitions such as Cultivating Collections expand the exposure. Maybe it will prompt joy or spark the creative energy in someone who will make the world a better place.”

Glass artist Jan Williams is the creator of the newest addition to the museum’s permanent collection of studio glass art. “I believe that Cultivating Collections is most important to WCU and its greater community for the access to art it provides, particularly to students,” says Williams. “For a student to be able to study, research and have input into the future of WCU’s permanent art collection is a unique and exciting opportunity. To have a permanent collection itself speaks of respecting and conserving the work for future generations to study.”

Bardo Arts Center is located at 199 Centennial Drive, Cullowhee. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information about programming, call 828.227.2787 or visit

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