Five hidden gems of the Westmont permanent collection, continued

Five+hidden+gems+of+the+Westmont+permanent+collection%2C+continued

Will Mundell, Staff Writer

Picking up where we left off from the last article, the third piece on this list is placed, rather fittingly, in the entranceway of Kerrwood Hall. “The Four Evangelists” is a set of engravings by prominent Dutch engraver Crispin van de Passe and the piece features depictions of the Apostles based on paintings by Gortzius Geldorp. Dewayne and Faith Perry — two Westmont graduates responsible for about a quarter of the pieces in the permanent collection — donated these pieces. The engravings are beautiful, but the message of their donors is just as striking.

The Perry’s are quoted in a Spring 2009 issue of the Westmont College Magazine saying they have “been careful stewards of our resources, and [have] chosen to invest in beautiful things that we can enjoy and share with others.” So next time you find yourself on Kerrwood Lawn, step inside and appreciate the faithful stewardship of alumni Dewayne and Faith through these beautiful Renaissance etchings. 

The penultimate piece of art on this list is an oil on canvas piece by Gaetano Pompa, a postwar Italian artist. “The Boys of War” features dark colors and clashing textures speckled with grinning faces that feel intimately tied to Pompa’s childhood experience of the second world war. Such a deep and psychological piece finds a fitting home in the psychology wing of Winter Hall. I often find myself lost in this painting, asking how these figures can smile amid such violence. “The Boys of War” is a readymade solace for any existential ponderers. 

I have to admit that I saved my favorite of these pieces for last–I couldn’t resist. Hung inconspicuously on the walls of Hieronymous lounge are four limited edition — and signed — Marc Chagall prints. These four, of six in our collection, are “David and Bathsheba” (1979), “Le Fleuve Vert” (1974), “Les Prophetes” (1956) and my favorite piece, which the collection calls “Untitled (female face, eyes closed).” This “Untitled” piece is called “The Village” and is a self-portrait from 1957. In the drawing, a young ringlet-laden Chagall closes his eyes in rest and lays his head upon the pillowy skyline of his Russian village.

In Hieronymous, this piece is hung on what appears to be its side. This might be due to Chagall’s signature location, but to truly see this beautiful sketch one must tilt their head to allow Chagall’s sleepy head to rest. To me, Chagall’s works convey something of the ineffable. In “The Village,” there is a palpable nostalgia. “David and Bathsheba” captures the simple sensation of a moment of infidelity. “Les Prophetes” is unrepentantly simple and inspires wonder. Each piece gives a physical line to poetic ideas; the only downside is that not all six are on display. 

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