Fass family donates eclectic collection of multicultural art to the Walsh Art Gallery at Fairfield University


Fass artworkThe Fass family of Massachusetts has donated a 30-piece collection of artworks, which range in style and origin, to the Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery at Fairfield University.

This assortment of art has been collected from various parts of the world, including South America, Mexico, Africa, and Asia. A number of pieces also stem from Incan and Mayan influence. While most of the works originated as recently as the 20th century, some can be traced from 100 B.C. to 900 A.D.

"This collection will serve - first and foremost - as a significant academic and practical educational tool for al students taking AH 12 (Introduction to the History of Asia, Africa and the Americas) as well as those enrolled in AH 100 (Arts of India, China and Japan)," said Diana Mille, Ph.D., director of the Walsh Art Gallery. "It will also provide the Fairfield community with the rare opportunity of viewing such sculptural eclecticism in one local collection."

The collection is varied in make and model. Wooden figures make up the majority of the pieces while masks and pottery constitute the rest. The material used to create these culturally emblematic pieces is as varied as the people represented by the art. The works are made of stone, bronze, terracotta, mud, vegetable matter and tree resins. Among the most significant works is a sculpture of a Nayarit seated couple which originated in the Ixtlan region of Mexico during 100 B.C.-250 A.D.

Fass artworkThe works are attributed to various regions of the world and its people.

Wooden sculptures belonging to 20th century New Guinea include: a Maprik standing male figure; an Asmat canoe prow from the Irinin Jaya people; a Kikori River delta ancestor figure; and a Maprik head.

Mexican culture is represented with: a Colima seated figure of a whistler, 300-900 A.D.; a Colima standing female figure from the west coast of Mexico, 300-900 A.D.; a Veracruz winged bat figural whistle from Mexico, 250-550 A.D.; the Nayarit head of a man, 100 B.C.-250 A.D. All these pieces are made from terracotta.

The pieces originating in Africa are all carved from wood and come from various time periods: a standing male figure from South Africa, 20th c.; a Mitsogho mask from Gabon, 1920-1930; an Ashanti seated female figure, 20th c.; a Bena Lulua standing female figure from Africa, 1940-1950; a Bamana marionette head, 20th c.; a Dan Kran mask from Liberia, 1900; a Baule standing male figure, 1940-1960; and a Dan Poro Society mask from the Ivory Coast with no time period specified.

Fass artworkThe South American works vary from pottery to carved sculpture. They include: a central Veracruz seated female figure, 250-500 A.D. (terracotta); a Chancay mask with textile headdress from the central coast of Peru, 1300-1450 A.D. (wood); a Panamanian standing figure of a Missionary Uchu from the San Blas Islands, 20th c. (wood); a Peruvian double-lobed vessel, possibly Inca, 1200-1400 A.D. (blackware pottery); a Kuna standing figure of a Missionary Uchu from the San Blas Islands of Panama, early 20th c. (wood); a Mayan stone seated figure from El Salvador, 500-1000 B.C.; a double bodied figured vessel from Peru, 200-400 A.D. (hollow pottery).

Rounding out the collection are a number of pieces from the Middle East and Asia: a Phillipine group of three standing figures, 20th c. (wood); a bronze head of Buddha with Thai or Cambodian origins dating from the 17th-19th c.; two Temes Nevimbur Grade Society staffs from the southwest bay of Malekula, Vanuatu, 20th c. (organic materials-vegetable matter, mud, tree resin); an Indian standing female figure, 20th c. (wood).

An installation plan for the Fass collection is being developed.

"This important gift from Mr. and Mrs. Fass is a significant milestone in the acquisition of a permanent art collection here at Fairfield," said Orin Grossman, Ph.D., academic vice president at Fairfield. "It will be studied and enjoyed by generations of students and we are grateful for this valuable collection."

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 5, 2003

Vol. 35, No. 241