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In the spring semester of 2020, students from the Behind the Scenes course at Hollins University organized this exhibition utilizing works selected from the permanent collection of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum. This exhibition was scheduled to go on view from April 29 – May 31, 2020; due to the coronavirus pandemic, the exhibition will only be available virtually.


The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is a university-based art museum founded in 2004 with funds made possible by a generous bequest of alumna Eleanor D. Wilson (’30), who also donated much of her personal artwork and archives. The bulk of the collection of 1,500 objects comes from donations, gifts, and purchases.


Each student selected two works that spoke to them based on academic, personal, and aesthetic interests. The students researched their chosen objects and wrote accompanying didactic materials. Paintings, prints, photographs, and pastels that vary drastically in time period, artistic style, subject matter and concept are represented. The exhibit features works created by well-known artists including Giovanni Battista Piranesi, John James Audubon, Käthe Kollwitz, Paul Klee, Salvador Dalí, and Andy Warhol, as well as works by Hedley Fitton, Jean Lurçat, Paule Gobillard, Eudora Welty, and others.


We ask that you examine these works by considering how the artists create and investigate space. In the landscapes and natural history depictions of J.J. Audubon, Paule Gobillard, Eudora Welty, Mary Page Evans, Elizabeth Osborne, and Andy Warhol, we see varied depictions of nature from realistically rendered natural environments to colorful impressionistic landscapes and abstractions. The architectural etchings by Hedley Fitton,  Léopold Flameng, and G.B. Piranesi portray a classical use of perspective in spaces designed and engineered by humans. Surreal and Expressionistic works by Dalí, Lurçat, and Kollwitz create a more internal or dreamlike space. Evoking thoughts, opening conversations, and showing the behind the scenes of the museum are the goals of this exhibition. 

When placed together, these works form an image of the Eleanor D. Wilson collection as a small but artistically and historically rich collection – especially when seen through the eyes of Hollins student curators.


Madelyn Farrow, Faith Herrington, Sylvia Lane, Mairwen Minson, Kaiya Ortiz, Valerie Sargeant, and Maddie Zanie







To the staff of the Eleanor D. Wilson: Janet Carty, Preparator; Laura Jane Ramsburg, Assistant Director; Kyra Schmidt Visitor Services and Programs Coordinator for their constant support of this student-curated exhibition, and especially Kyra Schmidt for designing a beautiful website and virtual gallery walk-through. Your artistic eye helped make this disparate group of objects come together as a cohesive exhibition.


To the students in the 2020 Behind the Scenes class: Madelyn Farrow, Faith Herrington, Sylvia Lane, Mairwen Minson, Kaiya Ortiz, Valerie Sargeant, Maddie Zanie for staying connected throughout this whole COVID-19 shutdown. It is difficult task to teach a practicum class remotely, and they were troopers through it all.


To Eleanor D. Wilson (’30) for making a Museum at her beloved Hollins University a reality and thus supporting object-based learning on campus.


To Hollins University for realizing the important role that art plays in the daily life of their staff, faculty and students and how it enriches every aspect of campus life.


The exhibition titled Exploring Visual and Conceptual Space: Student Selections from the Eleanor D. Wilson was to be presented in Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center from April 29 – May 31, 2020, however due to the Covid-19 pandemic the exhibit was made available only online.

Professors Culligan and Nolan,


Jenine Culligan, Director

Eleanor D. Wilson Museum

Hollins University

Kathleen Nolan, Chair
Department of Art
Hollins University


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