Clemson’s Will to Lead Executive Committee Visit the CVA-Greenville

March 28, 2014



Dean Rick Goodstein welcomes Will to Lead Executive Committee to CVA-Greenville

On Thursday, March 27 the Clemson’s Will to Lead Executive Committee Members made a special visit to CVA-Greenville. Dean Rick Goodstein welcomed the members to the satellite facility and shared with the group the connections the College of Architecture Arts and Humanities has with the Greenville ONE building. He introduced Art Department Chair, Greg Shelnutt and welcomed him to say a few words about the Center for Visual Arts and and the Art Department.

Thank you for joining us this afternoon. My name is Greg Shelnutt and I’m the Chair of the Art Department at Clemson University. Recently, I had a conversation with a very wise man at a Greenville Chamber of Commerce meeting. He told me how very important the arts were as an economic driver. Who made such a wise statement? You guessed it…our President, Jim Clements. I walked away from that encounter knowing that our University had hired a man who, like his predecessors, understood the importance of incorporating the arts. It was a great feeling.

Coincidentally, an article that just came out in this month’s Chronicle of Higher Education entitled, “Who knew? The arts education fuels the economy” also noted the important, but hard to measure, economic value of an arts education. This was published on the heels of the following study:

“In December, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released preliminary estimates from the nation’s first Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account. The account traces the relationship of arts and cultural industries, goods, and services to the GDP.

The findings were impressive:
– In 2011, arts education added $7.6-billion to the nation’s GDP.
– For every dollar consumers spend on arts education, an additional 56 cents is generated elsewhere in the U.S. economy.”

It’s not just arts enthusiasts like me who feel this way. The article goes onto to unveil that “The Partnership for 21st-Century Skills, a coalition of business and education leaders and policy makers, found, for example, that education in the arts helps instill the curiosity, creativity, imagination and capacity for evaluation that are perceived as vital to a productive U.S. work force.

Additionally, IBM, in a 2010 report based on face-to-face interviews with more than 1,500 CEOs worldwide, concluded that creativity trumps other leadership characteristics.”

I might be preaching to choir with all of you about the importance of the arts. Within this committee there is
Neill Cameron who helped lead a student branding research project for the Friends of the CVA,

Hack Trammell who is a donor to the CVA and his wife, Cheryl who sits on our board of directors,

Joe Turner who continues to be one of our lead donors to the CVA’s Celebration and whose wife, Cathy serves on the planning committee for this event, and

former President, Phil Prince, who is a CVA board member.


President James F. Barker, a founding member of the Center for Visual Arts

Then there’s of course, Jim and Marcia Barker who founded the Friends of the CVA. Marcia has sat on our board of directors since it began in 1999 and continues to help with the Celebration. We are grateful to the Barkers for their on-going support.

Even our setting demonstrates that Clemson University is embracing the arts through being in Greenville. The CVA-Greenville is already beginning to make positive changes in this city, but before I share with you about this space, let me bring you up to speed and share with you the journey we’ve taken to get us here today.

The importance for the arts at Clemson goes back to Thomas Green Clemson’s vision of having a “high seminary of learning” with his will clearly requiring that art remain, quite literally, at the center of the campus in Fort Hill. As an accomplished painter, an avid art collector, and an eloquent arts advocate, Clemson addressed the Washington Art Association in 1859, proclaiming “The beautiful arts [are] the magic bonds which unites all ages and nations.”

Fast forward to 1958 when Lee Hall was built to house design and architecture students. Shortly after, the first visual arts faculty was hired and the Lee Gallery was created. However, it wasn’t until 1973 when Clemson granted its first Master of Fine Arts degree in Art to Jeanet Dreskin. A long-time Greenville resident, Jeanet is significant to us not only because she was our first arts graduate, but because of her many accomplishments. Throughout her on-going, 70-year career as an artist, she has had work shown in The White House, and is represented in permanent collections throughout Europe and the US including the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum. We just celebrated the 40th anniversary of our MFA program on campus with a stunning exhibition of Jeanet’s work.

In the late 80’s our first BFA’s graduated, and a few years later President Deno Curris had the foresight to create the Art Partnership out of the Office of the President. This initiative laid the foundation for a public art program on campus.

In the late 90’s President Barker continued a vision to shape the arts at Clemson by creating the Friends of the Lee Gallery, which became Friends of the Center for Arts, funding the Lee Gallery out of the Office of the President with a matched gift. In early 2000, the CVA board was created and Trustee, Patti McAbee took a leadership position on the board.

In July 2006, Board of Trustees approved a proposal for a new Center for Visual Arts building, and, shortly afterwards, plans for a Center for Visual Arts building were on the list of Clemson University’s top five building priorities. In the following years, $180,000 was raised through the Celebration event. All of these dollars were spent on laying the groundwork for development of the CVA as a stand-alone world-class facility.

This facility was designed to surpass many top 20 institutional facilities in the country and was slated to be built between Lee and the Brooks Center for Performing Arts: a metaphorical and literal bridge to the arts. We embarked on a feasibility study, and architectural building plans were drawn up. Sadly, the Global Fiscal Crisis forced the institution to shift its priorities. In 2011, the design won the Unbuilt Award from the South Carolina Chapter of the AIA. Developing that physical facility, however, still remains our dream. With a vision this potent, we stand ready to put this world-class facility back on the priority list.

There are many other accomplishments that you may reference on the timeline board, but let me fast-forward to January 2013 when the Board of Trustees approved the space for the CVA-Greenville as one of the four Greenville hubs. With the help of Dean Rick Goodstein, Rob Porter and Dan Harding, we secured a $100,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greenville that serves to pay the salary for one staff person, for programming within this space for the upcoming year, etc. The facility is a generous, albeit a temporary agreement with Richard and Gwen Heusel, with hopes that they will gift the building to Clemson University so we may continue this bold venture into economic redevelopment through the arts.

I believe it’s important to clarify that the CVA-Greenville is our satellite facility and not our actual center. The CVA serves as the umbrella for all visual art activities at Clemson University. Although there is not a physical building for this center as of yet, the majority of activities for the CVA are generated out of the Lee Hall building located on the main campus.

If you are wondering, “What makes up the CVA?” Well, it has many facets:
The Art Department that houses our nationally accredited BFA and MFA degree programs


Art Department Chair, Greg Shelnutt

Many galleries such as
Our flagship gallery, The Lee Gallery,
The Acorn Gallery,
The Dean’s Gallery in Strode Tower, and this space,
The CVA-Greenville satellite facility.

We also have collaborative special exhibits, showcases and on-going partnerships with
The James F. Martin Conference Center and Inn,
Sikes Hall,
The Brooks Center for Performing Arts and
CU-ICAR…just to name a few.

The Center for Visual Arts also houses the Clemson Architectural Foundation’s permanent collection of hundreds of Modern and Contemporary works of art.

We work closely with the Friends of the CVA, a group of donors, patrons and volunteers who support the visual arts by helping to create opportunities for art students and provide support for programs and events hosted for the broader University community throughout the year. We also offer a robust slate of guest lectures given by regional, national and internationally recognized leaders in the arts.

I’d also like to highlight our “for students, by students” Atelier InSite Creative Inquiry project that implements public artwork on the Clemson University Campus. It capitalizes on a cross-disciplinary and inclusive approach that is predominantly student driven. I invite you to attend the unveiling of its very first public art project in the Life Sciences building on April 25.

All of these efforts continue to support our mission “to engage and render visible the creative process.”

So you’ve heard me mention some of our campus collaborations, but what you really need to understand is that the CVA and Art Department is the leader, bar-none, for collaborations throughout campus. In fact, we are the only academic unit on campus that can say we’ve extensively collaborated or will collaborate with all of the colleges on campus as well as athletics.

Some exciting collaborations to highlight are: working with the College of Engineering and Science with the importance of STEAM at Artisphere this May, helping run Passport to the Arts, Clemson University’s and the City of Clemson’s premier “Town and Gown” event, hosting an international visiting artist with Women’s Studies, creating exhibits for the OLLI building at Patrick Square, creating student art pieces for the Spiro Institute’s “Innovation Spirit Award” and the president’s personal gifts as well as providing future public art in the Watt Family Innovation Center, CU-ICAR; Greenville ONE, the West End Zone, and the future basketball facility.

However, our collaborations are not limited to Clemson entities. In fact, we have formed partnerships with NYC galleries, Duke University, ETV, with the City of Greenville and this surrounding neighborhood as well as all throughout South Carolina.

If you happen to be in Greenville for Artisphere, I encourage you to stop by our tent as well as to visit us over in the Engineering and Science tent where we can show you how art and science support one another. And, if you happen to be walking by the Greenville ONE building leading up to Artisphere and the week of the event, be sure to look at the huge CertusBank digital media wall for our repeating 30-second video spotlights about the CVA and the Art Department.


CVA-Greenville Program Coordinator, Gene Ellenberg gives a tour of the facility

Before I finish I think it’s important to recognize the staff that I work with that help make your visit here possible today; Denise Woodward-Detrich, Director of the Lee Gallery, Meredith Mims McTigue, our Marketing and Public Relations Director, and Gene Ellenberg, Program Coordinator for the CVA-Greenville. Gene is going to take you on a tour of the space and as you walk around he’ll tell you the history of the building as well as some of the many activities that have taken place in the short seven months we’ve been tenants of this building.

Finally, two things. First, I’d like to invite all of you to attend our Celebration 2014, fundraiser on Saturday, April 5, at 6:30 pm in the Madren Center. Proceeds from the fundraiser support undergraduate internships, graduate and undergraduate research and residency programs, and student generated curatorial projects. It’s also a great way to get some exquisite art for gifts and the walls of your homes and offices. Second, I want to express my gratitude to you for being here today and sharing your time with us. I understand that all of you are volunteers and that your time is valuable to your coworkers and loved ones. I deeply appreciate that you choose to serve Clemson University in this way. You play a hugely important role in guiding our future and for that, I thank you.

Center for Visual Arts Display Boards