Art Is a Gift Worth Giving

Derrick CartwrightFor Derrick Cartwright, art is life, life is art and at the University of San Diego, home to four different art galleries, he'll have endless ways to show, through art, all that life has to offer.

Many universities have a single, stand-alone museum, but Cartwright, USD's first director of university galleries, says it's an advantage to oversee and manage these separate spaces, each located in a different part of campus.

The Robert and Karen Hoehn Family Galleries in Founders Hall feature print collections, etchings by Rembrandt van Rijn, woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer and silkscreens by Andy Warhol. The Exhibit Hall in the Student Life Pavilion, although not under his purview, showcases exhibits of student-oriented work. The David W. May American Indian Collection and Gallery in Serra Hall feature art from Native American cultures. The Fine Art Galleries in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice feature documentary photography depicting social justice issues throughout the world.

"These galleries are special and there's something new and different within footsteps of wherever you may be on campus," says Cartwright, who in August 2012 took the new position. "Our galleries will play a complementary role to culture and will connect art with curriculum as well as to the broader public of San Diego."

Cartwright began his career as an assistant professor of art at USD in 1992. He left USD in 1998 and went on to direct the Musée d'Art Americain Giverny in Normandy, France; the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College; and the San Diego Museum of Art. Most recently, he was the Director of the Seattle Art Museum.

He's excited to be back.

"We can do so much at USD," Cartwright says. "We can be rigorously academic, we can be experimental, and we can be exceptionally nimble. If we want to bring contemporary prints from Brazil to respond to student and faculty interest, we can do that."

Cartwright is also a professor of practice in the Art, Architecture + Art History Department and teaches courses in art history, including how to build a collection and the legal and ethical issues involved. At the end of the course, he explains, he and the students will agree on one work of art to purchase and add to USD's permanent collection.

In fact, for Cartwright, building USD's art collection will always be top of mind. He says USD's best chance to grow its collection is through gifts of artwork from generous donors.

Cartwright looks forward to talking with people who may have artwork they'd like to give to the university. He hopes to add depth to the areas where USD's collection already has strength - primarily in its prints, its documentary photography and its Native American artwork.

"We intend to be good custodians of the works donated to USD," Cartwright says. "Objects will have an impact here over time, and right away. In many museums, a work of art given to the collection just disappears into storage. We'll make every effort to teach with the works we are given and our students will be the beneficiaries of our growth. "

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