The University of the District of Columbia Art Program offers a Bachelor of Arts degree with concentrations in studio art, graphic design, and photography. Faculty within the art program have played a major role in stewarding the University’s art collection which had its origins in 1981 under the leadership of Leslie C. Carter, Jr. the first president of the University. In May 1981, Dr. Carter created an Arts Selection Panel to identify works of art for acquisition in accordance with the appropriation provisions for the Phase II construction of the Van Ness Campus.
The three-dimensional works in the collection represent sculptors of national and international reputation, such as Richmond Barthe, Elizabeth Catlett, Ed Love and Richard Hunt. Richard Hunt’s “Sea Change” made of corten steel and reaching 10 feet in height, stand on the Cleveland L. Dennard Plaza overlooking the amphitheater. It is the most imposing and dominating monumental form in the sculptural collection.
There are graphic prints in the collection, consisting of lithographs, serigraphs, engravings, wood, and linoleum cuts. These include wood engravings such as “Girl’s Head,” and “Burning Bush” by James Wells, often referred to as the “Father of Black printmakers”. Another outstanding work in the collection is the poetic and colorful lithograph, “Sound of Silence,” by Charles White, the master of illustrations of black life in America.
Other eminent artists represented in the collection include Jacob Lawrence, Meredith Rode, Lou Stovall, Marilyn Thornton, Romare Bearden and Sam Gilliam. All media are included in the panting section which contains the works of such renowned artists as Alma Thomas, Hughie Lee Smith, Lois Jones, Hale Woodruff, James Parks, Delilah Pierce, and C.A. Young. Perhaps the most historical and exquisite painting in the collection would be “View from Southern France,” an oil by Lois Jones and “Atmospheric Mars in Color” an acrylic by Alma Thomas. Clearly, the collection is one of the hidden gems of the University.