Alexander Calder (1898-1976) stands as one of the most influential American artists of the 20th Century, and the University is honored to have on loan the Calder tapestry Zebra, currently installed on a specially constructed free standing wall with a custom acrylic cover on the reference floor near the main doors of the UTC Lupton Library.
Nancy Bowen Wiggins, who loaned the five foot by eight foot tapestry to the University, has also loaned the University an exhibit in the Fine Arts Center which includes original work on paper by Sam Gilliam, Jimmy Lee Suddeth, Benny Andrews, and Dr. Eugene Grigsby. An award winning video biography and interview with artist Benny Andrews produced by Lands Video for PBS is being screened along side the work.
“Wiggins began collecting art twenty years ago, at first buying what appealed to her, then focusing upon works on paper, and with always with a thought towards the future,” said Ruth Grover, UTC Director and Curator of Galleries, Exhibitions, and Collections. “Her collection of art now contains over 80 works and her own research into the lives of the artists whose art she now owns is greatly evident in her ability to speak to the work. Wiggins’ has also personally met many of the artists represented in her collection.”
Zebra (1975) is from a body of work that would prove to be among Calder’s last, Grover said.
“With a long interest in the art and craft of Central American, Calder and his wife traveled to Masaya, Nicaragua where traditional weavers used jute, special European dyes, and hundreds of needles, to work in teams to execute Calder’s designs for 10 tapestries. These tapestries reflect the bold primary color, whimsical flowing forms, and geometric shapes that are the hallmarks of Calder’s signature graphic style. As the large red disc in Zebra anchors its abstract composition, this geometric shape itself appears again and again in Calder’s work. While there is no research nor published reference to associate this disc form to the following anecdote, it is interesting to note that while still a young man working on a boat bound from New York to San Francisco, Calder awoke one morning on the deck of a ship just off the coast of Guatemala to see both bright sun and brilliant moon simultaneously in opposing horizons. This would leave a lasting impression, as Calder would refer to this moment, speak of this event, throughout his lifetime,” Grover said.