PULLMAN, Wash. — Seattle philanthropist Marian E. Smith believes that the visual arts should be part of every Washington State University student’s experience. Her gift of a notable collection of late 20th century glass works, by artists associated with Washington’s Pilchuck Glass School, is intended to achieve the goal of exposing WSU’s student body to exceptional artworks as an integral part of their education.
The collection includes a blown-glass cactus by New Mexico artist Flo Perkins, Charlie Parriott’s “Study for the Tin Man,” a vase by Sonja Blomdahl, Richard Royal’s “Tree and Bird,” Stephen Powell’s “Lemon Jazz Cheeks” and “Desert Orange Basket Set with Hydrangea Blue Lip Wraps” by Tacoma’s Dale Chihuly.
Students in WSU’s interior design program are designing suitable display cases for these pieces, which will be installed in the Samuel H. Smith Center for Undergraduate Education building. WSU students attending classes, visiting offices or using the building’s laboratories will have the opportunity to view the artwork in the course of their daily routine.
“Marian Smith’s generous gift of these exceptional pieces of late 20th century art glass and the funds required for their public display and preservation will greatly enhance the cultural life of students, faculty and staff on the WSU-Pullman campus,” said WSU President V. Lane Rawlins. “This gift creates a unique cultural resource that students can experience firsthand – supporting and enhancing the world-class educational experience offered at WSU.”
Smith believes that pieces of quality art placed in locations used by WSU students on a regular basis will both enhance their understanding of art and add to their overall intellectual abilities. “Art allows us to gain insight into human values, historical events and how individuals wish to be understood by others. This power to educate is reflected in the key role art and art history play alongside literature as the basis of a liberal arts education,” Smith said.
“Marian Smith has provided a new, proactive model of patronage to the arts at WSU. This gift puts art where it will be encountered as part of everyday life; by focusing on Pilchuck glass, it represents one of the most significant artistic developments in Northwest history; and by establishing an endowment, it assures ongoing educational programming around the art.” said WSU Museum of Art Director Chris Bruce, “We are truly grateful for her vision.”
Smith’s exemplary generosity to WSU includes creation of the Marian E. Smith Presidential Endowed Chair, currently held by Joe Valacich, management information systems faculty member, and the establishment of the Marian E. Smith Faculty Achievement Award, given annually to recognize significant and meritorious achievement in teaching during the previous academic year. The 2003 award went to Professor Thomas Dickinson of the Department of Physics.