West Collection: Recent Acquisitions of Diverse Voices

West Collection: Recent Acquisitions of Diverse Voices

In the last decade Paige West '86, Founder and Curator of the West Collection, has been pushing to include diverse voices in the collection’s narrative. She and her family have collected contemporary art for 25 years with the goal of confronting norms and the status quo. The focus recently has been on collecting visual artists who through their work are commenting on world issues ranging from the climate crisis, immigration and migration, and exposing human rights violations. This exhibition by nine artists is a representation of the last couple of years of collecting.

History of the West Collection
The West Collection is the contemporary art collection founded by Al and Paige West in 1996. Their vision is to support emerging artists by collecting their work and showcasing the pieces at the publicly traded investment firm SEI, which was founded by Al West in 1968. Paige West has put together a program around the collection at SEI, where 3,000 financial service employees work among the artwork and engage with it through tours, classes and related programming. To date, the Wests have collected the work of over 820 artists, and the collection contains roughly 3,600 artworks. At any given time, around half of the collection is on view at SEI's main campus in Oaks, where employees and 10,000 outside visitors each year interact with the continually changing installations. Artworks in the West Collection also travel to SEI satellite offices in New York, London, Dublin, Johannesburg, Indianapolis, Denver, Hong Kong, and Toronto. Paige West is committed to allowing the collected works to be available back to the artists for museum exhibitions, and numerous institutions have borrowed works over the 24 years, including Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Whitney Museum of American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Broad, and Tate Modern.

Paige West graduated from Shipley in 1986. She and her family are proud supporters of Shipley having contributed to various projects over the years including the West Middle School, the Wagner Arts Center, and the Piltch Commons. They have loaned pieces from their collection annually to the Speer Gallery.

About the Exhibition:

Alexandra Bell (American, b. 1983)
Alexandra Bell is a multidisciplinary artist who investigates the complexities of narrative, information consumption, and perception. Utilizing various media, she deconstructs language and imagery to explore the tension between marginal experiences and dominant histories. Through investigative research, she considers the ways media frameworks construct memory and inform discursive practices around race, politics, and culture.

Damien Davis (b. 1984)
Damien Davis is a Brooklyn-based artist. His practice explores historical representations of blackness by seeking to unpack the visual language of various cultures and question how these societies code/decode representations of race through design and digital modes of production. Davis’ recent solo presentations include MoMA PopRally Presents Arty Gras, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2017) and OBJECT / AFFECTION, Black Ball Projects, Brooklyn, NY (2016). Davis holds a B.F.A in Studio Art and an M.A in Visual Arts Administration from New York University. He is currently a participant in Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace program. - Uprise Art website

Dread Scott (American, b. 1965)
"I make revolutionary art to propel history forward. I look towards an era without exploitation or oppression. I don’t accept the political structures, economic foundation, social relations and governing ideas of America. This perspective has empowered me to make artworks that view leaders of slave revolts as heroes, challenge American patriotism as a unifying value, burn the US Constitution (an outmoded impediment to freedom), and position the police as successors to lynch mob terror." -Dread Scott website.

Hassan Hajjaj (Moroccan, b. 1961)
Hassan Hajjaj is a contemporary Moroccan artist known for his photography, printed fabrics, and films. In perhaps his best-known series, ‘Kesh Angels, Hajjaj captures the unique street culture of young female bikers in Marrakesh. Meant to conflate Western perceptions of Arabic society, Hajjaj uses the language of fashion photography, to produce portraits of figures dressed in colorful North African garb. Set within frames of consumer products, including Coca-Cola and Louis Vuitton, the artist’s images recontextualize both fine art photography and popular culture. “My work started because I wanted to show another side of Moroccan culture, something more than that, and the imagery that they’d understand in the same way,” he has explained. Born in 1961 in Larache, Morocco, he moved to London to live with his father at 13 years old. As a young man, Hajjaj worked as a music promoter, often tasked with the job of decorating the interiors of club venues with designs, furniture, and flowers. Over the following decades, while working as a designer, the artist began producing photographs and films which conveyed the complications of his cultural identity. He currently lives and works between Marrakesh, Morocco and London, United Kingdom. Today, Hajjaj’s works are held in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Lazaar Foundation in Tunisia, among others. (source Arnet homepage)

Mark Thomas Gibson (American, b. 1980)
Mark Thomas Gibson received his BFA from The Cooper Union in 2002 and his MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2013, where he was the recipient of the Ely Harwood Schless Memorial Fund Award.

Gibson focuses on using the language of comic as a tool for social justice. His work involves graphic novels, consisting of black and white pen drawings, and colorful paintings developed from imageries chosen from his books. Gibson's artist statement describes his artistic choices and vision: “I look at American culture from a multipartite viewpoint as an artist—as a black male, a professor, an American history buff and comic book nerd. These myriad of often colliding perspectives fuel my exploration of American culture through the high and low visual languages of painting and comics to reveal a narrative that spells out our fabricated destruction. The black ink and strong color in my work create stark contrasts in which positive and negative space define the composition. I rely on a minimal aesthetic, playing off of both fine art and the comic book vernacular of sequential narrative. In all the works, I try to shine a light on the grim and gritty social realities of contemporary America. Mark Thomas Gibson Wikipedia page, quote from a lecture in Tampa.

Michael Jang (American, b. 1951)
Michael Jang was born in California and attended Cal Arts. "The Jangs" is his first series after graduating school where he lived with his aunt and uncle and captured his cousins in their daily life in a very candid way. His goal was to express how a Chinese-American family was assimilating to life in California by picturing them wearing popular clothes, swinging golf clubs in the back yard, and living a ‘normal” American suburban life. His career as an artist really didn’t emerge until nearly three decades later as his whole professional career was spent doing commercial photography rather than fine art photography.

Siyuan Liu (Chinese)
Siyuan Liu was born in China, attended The University of the Arts, and graduated in 2019 with an MFA. Liu is back in China now. His thesis show at UARTS explored historical events with such pieces as Washington Crossing the Delaware and Mao Crossing Chishui River. His historical comparisons of the two leaders took on the contemporary issues between Trump and Xi Jinping.

Nela Garzon (Colombian)
Nela Garzon is a multi-disciplinary artist from Colombia, now living in Houston, TX.

A section of Nela’s artist statement:
I want to create awareness about the importance of traditional cultures and crafts on the contrary to the appalling outcome of consumerism and mass production. I want to promote cultural pride in minorities and acceptance from everyone. Modern societies brag about diversity in academic scenarios, but are non-inclusive in social life. Each day masses of people are constantly being displaced by wars and natural disasters and in order to be accepted, belong, and adapt to new cultures a lot of them willingly choose to forget their traditions and origins. The outcome is an irreversible cultural loss, and I wish I can help treasure through my work, those cultures that might disappear soon.

Zanele Muholi (South African, b. 1972)
Zanele Muholi is a visual activist and photographer. For over a decade they have documented black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people’s lives in various townships in South Africa. Responding to the continuing discrimination and violence faced by the LGBTI community, in 2006 Muholi embarked on an ongoing project, Faces and Phases, in which they depict black lesbian and transgender individuals. Muholi’s self-proclaimed mission is "to re-write a black queer and trans visual history of South Africa for the world to know of our resistance and existence at the height of hate crimes in SA and beyond." These arresting portraits are part of Muholi’s contribution towards a more democratic and representative South African homosexual history. Through this positive imagery, Muholi hopes to offset the stigma and negativity attached to queer identity in African society. - Yancey Richardson website.
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.