Eleanor D Wilson Museum : Hollins University

Roanoke, VA USA

Happy Thanksgiving everyone,

     Last Thanksgiving, plopped down right in the midst of all that London history,  Randal and I actually spent some time thinking about the Pilgrims and the Mayflower. We ate lunch at the Mayflower Pub and visited the church in Rotherhithe were Mayflower Captain Christopher Jones was supposedly buried.  Hard to believe that was only just last year.  It feels so long ago at this point.  But it’s nice to be home this year having Thanksgiving with family and friends.  I think it’s just about my favorite holiday. 

    Last week my friend Sarah and I visited the Eleanor D Wilson Museum at beautiful Hollins University.  We’re lucky to have both Hollins University and Roanoke College as well as Virginia Western Community College here in the Roanoke Valley.  This is the first time either of us had visited the museum but it’s a lovely venue and easy to access if you enter the campus and turn left.  If you turn right as we did you have to look a bit but the campus is small enough so we easily found it with some help from two passing students.     

     There were many works, some I liked more than others.  Here’s a bit of what we saw.  Looking at art certainly gives a jump-start to my visual thinking.



Eleanor Wilson  (Museum Website Photos)

     “Eleanor Delaney “Siddy” Wilson graduated from Hollins with a degree in chemistry. She went on to become an accomplished actress on Broadway and to receive a Tony nomination. She directed plays, performed with the USO, and worked in television and movies. She pursued her interest in art by studying with Margaret Stark and Rafael Soyer in New York City. Siddy’s desire was that her beloved Hollins have a world-class art museum. This museum, named in her honor, is the culmination of her philanthropic generosity and benefits both the Hollins and greater Roanoke communities. “


Tony-nominated actress : July 29, 2002 | 07:22PM PT

Eleanor D. (“Siddy”) Wilson, Tony-nominated for her performance in Gore Vidal’s 1968 “Weekend” and who played Warren Beatty’s mother in the 1981 film “Reds,” died of lung cancer at her Williamstown, Mass., home May 31. She was 93.

Chester, Pa., native attended the Mary Lyon School in Swarthmore, Pa., and graduated in 1930 from Hollins College in Roanoke, Va., where she majored in chemistry. She later studied at Boston’s Museum of Fine Art and New York’s New School for Social Research.

She began her professional theater training at the Hedgerow Theater in Olney, Pa., under the tutelage of director Jasper Deeter and made her Broadway debut in “Watch on the Rhine” during its 1941 New York run. Other Broadway appearances were in “The Eagle Has Two Heads” in 1947 with Tallulah Bankhead, “The Silver Whistle” in 1948 and “The Wayward Saint” in 1955. She appeared Off Broadway in “The Villa of Madame Vidac” in 1959.

Wilson’s acting career also included seasons at Houston’s Alley Theater, Milwaukee Rep and Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. She performed on radio and on television as well and toured with the USO during WWII; she was the first woman to land at Anzio, Italy, to perform for the troops.

For many years Wilson lived in New York and had a summer home in Stockbridge, Mass. In Stockbridge, she appeared in 25 summer productions at the Berkshire Playhouse, the first being “Junior Miss” in 1947. She was the theater’s artistic director for its 1957 season. During her career she was a member of Actors’ Equity union council.

After her retirement from acting in 1984, Wilson devoted herself to mathematical abstract paintings. These were exhibited at a number of galleries and colleges including New York City’s Hundson Guild and Touchstone Gallery, Widner U., Hollins U., Williams College Museum of Art and the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.  http://variety.com/2002/scene/people-news/eleanor-wilson-1117870510/

Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University
P. O. Box 9679 : 8009 Fishburn Drive : Roanoke, VA 24020-1679
(540) 362-6532 • wilsonmuseum@hollins.edu

Tues-Fri: 10 am to 4 pm
Sat: 1-5 pm


“The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University features the work of renowned, emerging, and regional artists. The museum presents exhibitions in a wide variety of media and genres, including selected exhibitions from the permanent collection. Through this programming, the museum provides a forum for art through viewing, dialogue, and an understanding of the creative process. Located on the first floor of the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center, the museum is a state-of-the-art climate controlled facility with three interconnected galleries totaling approximately 4,000 square feet of exhibition space. The museum has a Resource Center available to students, teachers, and other patrons who are interested in furthering their study of the art in the museum’s permanent collection. It also functions as an instructional center for groups and classes, and hosts projects based on current exhibitions.”


Just near the entrance is a Betty Branch sculpture.


Gaia, 1987 Betty Branch  BA ‘79  MALS ‘87

Carrara Marble

Collection of the Eleanor D. Wilson Musuem at Hollins University, 2010.006

Gift of the Artist

Gaia was the great mother of all: the primal Greek Mother Goddess; creator and giver of birth to the Earth and all the Universe; the heavenly gods, the Titans, and the Giants were born to her.



Upstairs on the “1st floor” is the gallery.  When using the elevator the entrance is on level E. 


We arrived to find the door locked with a note telling us where to go for assistance.  But some students with their family came along with one of the gallery curators who opened the door for us and gave a mini-tour. 


Sarah and I were lucky enough to catch the exhibit’s final days!

Contemporary Photographers, Traditional Practices: Vision and Method in the 21st Century

  “The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University enters its second decade this year with a fall exhibition celebrating photography. In collaboration with the Schmidt-Dean Gallery in Philadelphia, the museum presents an eclectic exhibition of thirteen contemporary photographers represented by the gallery, all of whom enjoy regional and national reputations. Curated by Schmidt-Dean Gallery director Christopher Schmidt, the exhibition features a wide range of both technical and conceptual approaches. Included are historical procedures such as the tintype, cyanotype and gum-bichromate process; alternative techniques such as pinhole and hand painting; and more traditional methods in both analog and digital. Throughout, these various approaches are applied to a wide range of subjects and ideas.

Exhibiting artists include Linda Adlestein, Thomas Brummett, Susan Fenton, Larry Fink, Alida Fish, Sarah Van Keuren, Stuart Klipper, Christopher Moore, William Smith, Krista Steinke, Ruth Thorne Thomsen, Ida Weygandt, and Samuel Worthington.”  http://www.hollins.edu/museum/exhibits/current/

From the Schmidt-Dean Gallery 

The Worthington photos grabbed my attention.


Samuel Worthington, IV  Untitled works  Mordancage : Courtesy of the artist and Schmidt-Dean Gallery

“Samuel Worthington, IV uses a chemical process known as Mordancage to produce images with intricately detailed surface features.  Based on a late 19th– century process known as etch-bleach, Mordancage alters silver gelatin prints allowing dark areas of emulsion to be lifted away from the paper to create a degraded effect.  The tonal quality of the images may also be affected by the oxidation of this process, further enhancing the perceived “ages” of the photograph.” Information posted near the photographs.  I would love to watch this being done.  Below I played with one of the photos….


I cropped and enhanced  a bit of one of the photos to show what captivated me about the actual photo. 

This explanation made more sense to me which I found looking for info about Worthington.  Apparently there’s an actor named Sam Worthington.

“Samuel Worthington IV employs a rarely used 19th-century technique to fashion a pair of contrasting landscapes from the same negative. Mordencage allows a photographer to reverse a film negative to positive.  Using the painstaking process, Worthington bleaches the original image to produce prints that resemble the intense lines and bold patterns found in an etching.”  http://homepages.wmich.edu/~wdavis/A_HTML/Jpegs/Perkins’%20PRESS.html%20

Photographs from the Collection  (Permanent Hollins University Collection)

     “Since its invention in the nineteenth century, photography has been alternatingly viewed as a way to faithfully represent the world and an opportunity to portray illusion. Curated from the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum’s collection, this exhibition includes photographs by Nancy Spencer, Sally Mann, Eudora Welty, and Carrie Mae Weems. Representing a spectrum of styles and perspectives, these diverse works hint at the field of observation that the camera’s lens provides.”  http://www.hollins.edu/museum/exhibits/current/


Eudora Welty

Photograph of Abandoned House, ca. 1940

Silver gelatin print

Gift of Barry Jones

     “Welty took photography seriously, and even if she had never published a word of prose, her pictures alone would probably have secured her a legacy as a gifted documentarian of the Great Depression. Her photographs have been collected in several beautiful books, including One Time, Once Place; Eudora Welty: Photographs; and Eudora Welty as Photographer. In hiring Welty, “the Works Progress Administration was making a gift of the utmost importance to American letters,” her friend and fellow writer William Maxwell once observed. “It obliged her to go where she would not otherwise have gone and see people and places she might not ever have seen. A writer’s material derives nearly always from experience. Because of this job she came to know the state of Mississippi by heart and could never come to the end of what she might want to write about.”


One Writer’s Beginnings, Welty’s celebrated 1984 memoir, was part of a reading series years ago at the County Library.  I remember truly enjoying it and going on to read some of her fiction.  I hadn’t realized that she was also a renowned photographer.


This photo of Meryl Streep and Natalie Portman was part of a series that juxtaposed real world people with famous Hollywood women.  I should have gotten more details but I really just liked the photo.

Ida Weygandt

“In the large format photographs presented in this exhibit, Ida Weygandt uses the landscape to expand on her themes of interior world aligning with exterior, of the interconnection between nature and self and the concept of home. “My interaction with the landscape has always been very strong,” Weygandt says. “I am always absorbing the elements around me.” 

And, in turn, the elements absorb her, taking her in, making her at home. In some of the photographs Weygandt herself appears, tucked into the foliage or brush…



Corn & Apples Archival pigment prints courtesy of the artist and Schmidt-Dean Gallery

It appears that she is also a wine expert.

“Ida Weygandt grew up in the rolling hills of PA, just outside of Philladelphia. She recieved a BA from Bard College in 2004 and an MFA from the Massachussets College of Art in 2008. She received her wine education at her father’s table. At every meal during childhood and still to this day, Ida would learn first hand about new and exciting wine, wine regions, and producers. Eventually, her father’s passion became her own. Over the last few years she has accompanied Peter on wine trips to France, Germany and Austria and has helped promote the portfolio throughout the U.S.”   http://www.weygandtselections.com/Ida_Weygandt.html


I just like the image of Sarah contemplating this photo.  It wasn’t a favorite so I can’t tell you anything about it but it does show the variety or works in the exhibit.


Hollins Studio Faculty Exhibition    October 2 – December 6, 2014

   “The Wilson Museum is pleased to host a Hollins studio faculty exhibition, sharing with the broader community the work of these talented artists and professors: Robert Sulkin, photography; Jennifer Anderson, installation; Elise Schweitzer, painting; Donna Polseno, sculpture; Richard Hensley, ceramics; and Annie Waldrop, painted constructions.”




My turn…


Pen and wash?  Or just wash? 


Man looking at woman looking back






Chagall Bride and Groom


Luckily I’ve lots of hair.  When I wash it, rather than letting it clog the drain I roll it together and place it on the shower wall to collect and toss away.   I noticed it looked like pen and wash so took some photos.