by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Something about the early-evening light captured Willa Hut '17’s eye as she rounded a corner in downtown Carlisle, a few blocks from campus. An art & art history major, she often snapped pictures while out and about. Little did she know that the work she’d create based on this shot would find a home in Dickinson’s most historic building.
Hut’s painting, simply titled “Carlisle,” is the most recent acquisition in a modest art collection displayed in the second-floor hallway of Old West. Each piece was selected by Provost & Dean Neil Weissman, who launched the Provost’s Art Purchase Award to highlight talent in Dickinson’s studio-art department.
The second-floor-hallway exhibition was inspired in part by an exhibition on Old West history installed in the first-floor hallway of the same building. As that exhibition came together roughly 10 years ago, Weissman envisioned a similarly meaningful design refresh in the hallway outside of his office.
“At the time, there were portraits of some of the Dickinson trustees lining the hallway, and they were of mixed quality,” says Weissman, noting that some of the portraits were simple snapshots, while others were formal paintings. A new exhibition showcasing student work seemed a better match.
Neil Weissman, provost and dean of the college, poses by a favorite work in the provost's art collection displayed in Old West. Photo by Carl Socolow '77.
Weissman originally purchased a handful of student works on behalf of the college, and over time, that practice evolved into an annual Provost’s Art Purchase Award. Student works purchased through this program are selected personally by the provost, with input from studio-art professors, and displayed in Old West or in another significant campus venue, along with artwork by studio-art faculty members. Award-winners receive $200, the same amount given to students who receive the studio-art faculty prize.
This past spring, after viewing the 2017 senior studio-art exhibition, “In More Ways Than One,” Weissman was intrigued by a series of abstracted landscapes by Hut, a New Jersey native and member of Belles Lettres Society, Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Beta Kappa who studied abroad in Toulouse, and who worked on campus as a Clarke Forum intern, peer academic advisor and Trout Gallery intern. For the permanent collection, Hut submitted an abstracted landscape that depicts a row of houses against a moodily lit sky. She plans to drive back to Carlisle within the next two weeks to drop it off.
“I’m really honored to be chosen for this award,” says Hut, who is working in sales and marketing at One River School of Art and Design in her native New Jersey and will begin to teach art classes there in the fall. “It's a really cool thing that after I graduate, a piece of my work stays behind and will be permanently on display.”
Published August 10, 2017