An art collector who donated a painting in honor of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s art gallery director last fall has followed up her first donation with a collection of 43 international paintings representing contemporary art from Southeast Asia.
Pierrette Van Cleve visited UA Little Rock in September 2018 to present a series of lectures to art students about the “Memory/Commitment/Aspiration” exhibit, which featured work from the Pierrette Van Cleve Collection and served as a backdrop for a new art history course, Global Contemporary Art, taught at UA Little Rock last fall.
UA Little Rock Art Gallery Director Brad Cushman curated the exhibit, which addressed the moral and political oppression of the people of Southeast Asia and India. Van Cleve has traveled throughout Southeast Asia, establishing personal relationships with artists in many countries. As a collector, she is drawn to stories about freedom, equality, and fights for justice.
“The artwork needs to be at UA Little Rock,” said Van Cleve. “The global focus of my collection will bring an international voice to the art collection at the university. The artists in my collection are not as well known in this country. Today, more than ever, it is very important to teach cultural diversity and give students a perspective beyond their immediate surroundings.”
The artists hail from Cambodia, China, India, Thailand, Tibet, Vietnam, and additional countries. Artists represented in the collection include Leang Seckon, Prom Vichet, Oeur Sokuntevy, Anida Yoeu Ali, Linda Saphan, Amy Lee Sanford, Surjit Akre, Shaw Ghosh, Preyawit Nilachulaka, Liu Yan, Xiong Lijun, Jiang Jung, H.M. Thang, and Phan Thahn Minh.
Van Cleve was so impressed by her visit to UA Little Rock in the fall that she donated a painting, “My Surrounding People” by Phan Thanh Minh, to the university in Cushman’s honor.
“It was my gift to the university as well as a nod to Brad’s decision to show this collection of Southeast Asian contemporary art,” Van Cleve said. “I also wanted to honor Brad’s years of curatorial vision, his dedication, and the gallery which bears his name.”
Last fall, Cushman began to make arrangements to send Van Cleve’s collection back to San Diego when he received the stunning news.
“It was at this time that Pierrette Van Cleve offered to donate the majority of the works that had been in exhibition plus other works as well. A donation of one work of art turned into a donation of 43 works of art. I was stunned,” Cushman said. “Pierrette had recently lost her mother and was in a reflective mood. We talked about the importance of having her collection at an institution where it could be used to educate future generations.”
Van Cleve’s collection will be shown in future exhibits in the UA Little Rock Art Gallery. Additionally, there are plans to produce a research catalog regarding the history of the artists and paintings from the collection.