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The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum | Hollins University


Past Exhibitions

2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 |2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004


The Time Between:
Postcard Pandemic Project
February 2-28, 2021

This tumultuous period of social distancing, isolation, quarantine, cancellations, and closures has had an immense impact on the art community and society at large. We are seeing how these changes are shifting our daily lives. Artists throughout time have responded to their world with a visual understanding that speaks to our collective feelings and emotions. Art has the capacity to go deeper and touch us in ways that news reports and charts cannot. In a cultural time of anxiety and uncertainty, we want to offer you an outlet and a voice.

In the 2020 fall semester, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum invited all Hollins students, faculty, and staff to explore the impact of COVID-19 by submitting a postcard-sized artwork that embodied reflections on 2020. This call welcomed all types of artistic media. If you would like to participate, grab a postcard from the display in the VAC first floor hallway!


Sarah Hayashi, Hopefully..., 2020. Mixed media. Courtesy of the artist.


Eleanor Ray:
2021 Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence
February 11 - April 25, 2021
currently available online

I like the idea that the small painting is kind of monumental rather than miniature—that it can contain a bigger space, like the imaginative space of a book.

This quote by the artist Eleanor Ray touches on the scale of her paintings, but also on the idea of placing oneself in an immersive setting created by another either through the use of words, or as in Ray’s case, through carefully composed or framed visual components, and leaving it to the reader or viewer to imagine being there.

Many of Ray’s paintings give us glimpses of places we know from the history of art, medieval to contemporary: the 14th century frescoes by Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy; the 15th century frescoes by Fra Angelico in the convent of San Marco, Florence, Italy; Robert Smithson’s earth work titled Spiral Jetty in Utah’s Great Salt Lake; Donald Judd’s concrete and aluminum works in Marfa, Texas; and Agnes Martin’s artist-built house and studio in Galisteo, New Mexico. Ray also paints pure landscapes with their own immersive power. One gets the feeling visits to these sites were pilgrimages. Geometric structures help frame distant landscapes of big sky and faraway hills and accentuate interior and exterior spaces. In many of the works, there is a push/pull between architectural elements, strong shadows, warm light, and soft gradations of colors.

Eleanor Ray (b. 1987, Gainesville, FL) lives and works in New York. She received her undergraduate degree from Amherst and an MFA from the New York Studio School. She is represented by Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, NYC. Numerous awards and residencies include Ucross Foundation, Wyoming; Edward F. Albee Foundation, NY; New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Painting; and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Prize.

In 1997, Hollins University began an artist-in-residence program honoring Frances Niederer, a beloved art history professor who taught at Hollins for almost forty years (1942-1980). This program brings a nationally and internationally recognized artist to campus each spring. The artist creates work, teaches a seminar open to all students, and delivers a public lecture in conjunction with their solo exhibition in the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum.

athens stairs

Eleanor Ray, Athens Stairs, 2019. Oil on panel, 7.5 x 6.35". Courtesy of Ian Gazes / Serge Krawiecki Gazes.


Elise Schweitzer:
Painted Arches and Walled Gardens
February 18 - April 25, 2021
currently available online

Elise Schweitzer crafts a labyrinth of rich color and liminal spaces through her Painted Arches and Walled Gardens. This current body of work was created during her recent sabbatical, Fall 2019 through Spring 2020. In January 2020 she co-taught a class of Hollins University students in Florence, Italy, with Genevieve Hendricks, an art and architectural historian. Schweitzer stayed on in Florence after the class, then spent time in Rome, including two weeks as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy. Class time in Florence was spent lecturing on and drawing Renaissance art, architecture, and sculpture. The class spent hours studying and drawing on location with compasses and triangles. After her teaching stint ended, Schweitzer continued to ruminate on the art and the concepts her class had seen and discussed.

Schweitzer is well known for her large-scale figurative action-filled oil paintings. These small, beautiful, jewel-like gouache paintings are conceptual departures. One could describe them as cerebral exercises filled with experimentation, sometimes humor, and focused on the play of light, shapes, and color. Schweitzer comments about this shift in style: “when I am composing a figurative painting I was always thinking about the direction of the light, the relationship of colors, the balance of opaque to translucent areas in the painting... I think part of making this work was cutting through the need to have a realistic reference and instead just painting the thing that I had always been excited about, without the motif.”

from the catalogue essay "Arches, Albers, Artichokes, and Hexagons"
by Jenine Culligan

This exhibition is sponsored in part by a Cabell Fellowship.

walled garden

Elise Schweitzer, Walled Garden, 2020. Gouache on paper. Courtesy of the artist.


Women Working with Clay:
Ten Years of Telling the Story
March 11 - June 20, 2021
currently available online

In celebration of the tenth anniversary of the annual Women Working with Clay Symposium, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University has organized the exhibition Women Working with Clay: Ten Years of Telling the Story. Featuring 50 works by 50 women artists who have presented at the symposia, this exhibit celebrates the stories, memories, and accomplishments of women in the field of ceramics. Topics explored through this exhibition range from the retelling of folktales, fables, and myths to the far-reaching impact of the history of colonialism and slavery; each work celebrates the beauty and poignancy of the inclusion of handmade objects in daily life. Artist Donna Polseno, the organizer of the Women Working with Clay Symposium, writes: “The works... speak about deeply personal experiences in life, emanating from each artist’s story and differing approaches to the material of clay with historical or cultural references adding another layer.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue with an essay by Mary Barringer; Symposium Director’s note by Donna Polseno; and foreword by Jenine Culligan, Director of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University.

This exhibit and its related programs are sponsored in part by the City of Roanoke through the Roanoke Arts Commission, the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, and Hollins University.

women working with clay

demo at the Women Working with Clay Symposium


2021 Senior Majors Exhibition
May 11-18, 2021
currently available online

This exhibition features the work of members of the Hollins University class of 2021 majoring in studio art: Milo Bowles, Candice Housden, T Kate, Kate Lydon, and Shanna L. Wallingford; and December 2020 graduates Sarah Hayashi and Mary Alice Mouk. The exhibition is the final requirement for art students earning their Bachelor of Arts degree at Hollins, and is the capstone experience of their yearlong senior project.

hollins 2021 senior art majors

image courtesy of the 2021 Senior Art Majors


Recent Acquisitions: Nice to See You!
June 3 - August 1, 2021

On view is a selection of gifts from generous donors over the last five years. These include: contemporary prints from the collection of James W. Hyams; sketches and drawings by French modernist artist Jean Hélion selected from a large gift from the family of Jean Hélion; a painting by the museum’s namesake Eleanor “Siddy” Wilson, given by Dr. F.K. Millar; experimental works using found materials by Boston-based artist Jo Sandman; a large watercolor by the renowned Salem, Virginia-born artist Walter Biggs, donated by the family of a Hollins alumna; and many others.

janet fish

Janet Fish, Lotus, 2005. Screenprint on paper, ed. of 50. Gift of James W. Hyams, 2020.004.010.


WORKERS: Photographs by Yulandra Livingston
June 3 - September 19, 2021
currently available online

Photographer, Hollins alumna, and longtime Hollins staff member Yulandra Livingston ’14 created this body of work in 2013-14. In these sensitive, straightforward photographs portraying minority business owners in Roanoke, Virginia, Livingston grapples with the question: Does the American Dream still exist?

yulandra livingston workers

image courtesy of the artist


DIGNIFIED: Individuals with Alzheimer's and Their Caregivers
Photographs by Patterson Lawson
July 15 - September 19, 2021

In 2019, Richmond-based photographer Patterson Lawson discovered an interest in documenting individuals and families whose lives were and are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive disorder that degrades memory and vital brain functions. Lawson found that, unlike other diseases where individuals and family members actively engage the medical community and devote time, energy, and attention to getting well, many assume a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s means the end of a meaningful life. He writes, “These portraits contradict such perceptions. While the losses are real, people with Alzheimer’s are not empty shells... The subjects’ direct gazes reveal their dignity.”


Patterson Lawson, Marian. Photograph.


Dorothy Gillespie: Tabletop Sculptures
August 12 - October 3, 2021

Dorothy Gillespie (1920-2012) enjoyed an active, seven-decade career as an artist, educator, and influencer who challenged traditional female roles. A Roanoke, Virginia native, Gillespie attended the Maryland Institute College of Art (1940-43) before moving to New York City where she spent most of her life. Gillespie was a highly prolific artist who experimented with a variety of media including painting, sculpture, printmaking, happenings, installations, jewelry, and set design. In the 1970s, she played an important role in the women’s art movement and actively encouraged and promoted women artists throughout her career.

Gillespie is best known for her large-scale, colorfully painted metal sculptures; however, this exhibition focuses on her tabletop works. These diminutive pieces, on loan from the artist’s studio in Narrowsburg, New York, parallel many of the forms, color, and movement of her large-scale sculptures. They illustrate her process of painting, cutting, bending, and manipulating metal into a variety of forms and shapes. Richard Martin, former editor of ARTS Magazine, described Gillespie’s small tabletop sculptures as “sea creatures, dancers, polychromed and playful spiders, meteorites, chrysanthemums, and cartoon octopuses.”

gillespie starburst

Dorothy Gillespie, Starburst. Aluminum with enamel paint. Photo by Kyra Schmidt.


DesignHer: Works by Contemporary Women Graphic Designers
September 30 - December 12, 2021

DesignHer is an exhibition of contemporary graphic design focusing on women practitioners. If spoken, the show’s title’s H is silent, representative of how the story of design and the story of women in design are the same. It also symbolizes that for much of design’s history, the contributions of women have been largely unheard. A primary theme within the show is how women have been at the forefront of defining and challenging the conceptions of design; also, how design exists, often simultaneously, as culture’s most public and private expression. Participants range from younger artists building a reputation through internationally-renowned leaders in the discipline. From individually crafted objects to mass media campaigns, DesignHer speaks about design writ large through the voices of women speaking design to our culture.

This exhibition is guest-curated by Kenneth FitzGerald and Melissa Warp. Funding is provided in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

zuzana licko

Zuzana Licko, various print pieces (installation detail). Photo by Kyra Schmidt.


Melissa Warp: This Land is Our Land
October 7 - December 12, 2021

After earning her BFA from the University of Minnesota and her MA from Hollins University, Melissa Warp has constructed a career in design and illustration. Using layered design and interactive media, she explores contemporary land use and contrasts today’s outlook with past viewpoints. She explains, “My hope is that through interacting with the pieces in this show the user can directly alter some of the landscapes and see that these transitions being made have great impact.”

This exhibit and its related programs are sponsored in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

melissa warp

photograph by Melissa Warp


DUO: Donna Polseno and Richard Hensley
October 14 - December 12, 2021

Husband and wife artists Donna Polseno and Rick Hensley are a formidable duo in the clay world, well-known not only locally but also nationally and internationally. Polseno is known for her large scale, hand-built, archetypal, powerful yet fragile women figures, made out of Georgia brick clay. She also creates smaller-scaled vessels using a mid-range white clay, decorated using intricate soft matte glazes, wax resist, and incised lines. Hensley is a master on the wheel: he works in porcelain, creating elegantly-shaped vessels draped in soft, transparent glazes with delicate incised nature-based patterns. He is well-known in the clay world for his glaze recipes, especially for “Hensley opaque white” and a no-craze transparent glaze.

Since 1974, Polseno and Hensley have created ceramics and sculpture in their Floyd, VA studio. They travel the world as students of ceramics, as teachers, workshop presenters, and exhibit and symposium organizers. This exhibit at the EDWM will present recent works by this energetic couple who continue their lifelong need to make things out of clay. The exhibit is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue – the first to showcase their work together in one catalogue.

This exhibit and its related programs are sponsored in part by the City of Roanoke through the Roanoke Arts Commission.

donna polseno richard hensley

Upper: Donna Polseno, Green Birds and Flowers Plate; Lower: Richard Hensley, Ewer


Hollins University
Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University
Box 9679 : 8009 Fishburn Drive : Roanoke, VA 24020
(540) 362-6532 •
Tues-Sun: 12-5 pm
Thurs: 12-8 pm
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