"SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Every step of the way – from the main entrance to the art gallery and the museum – the new Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts at Wofford College invites you in.
Through the full glass front façade on the campus side of the 65,000-square-foot building, students and visitors see artwork hanging in the Richardson Family Art Gallery on one end, students and professors working in a state-of-the-art computer design lab on the other end, and in the center, they see glimpses of the stunning red, gold and yellow Cerise and Amber Persian Ceiling sculpture by famed artist Dale Chihuly that spans the lobby in front of the entrance to the building’s centerpiece, the 320-seat Jerome Johnson Richardson Theatre.
Once inside, the glass walls and doors of the gallery invite them into the space, and a wide, winding hallway carries them to the monumental staircase where they are greeted by another Chihuly piece, the Goldenrod and Crimson Persian Chandelier. The open staircase is flanked by a seating area of all-white furniture – so as not to detract from the chandelier’s striking, yet warm, autumnal shades. The staircase overlooks, through walls of glass, an outdoor art studio and gallery that features wooden benches and green plants for a serene setting. Even before the building officially opens, students already have found the outdoor space’s terraced steps a great “secret” study space during exam week.
The Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts along with the Richardson Family Art Gallery and the Richardson Family Art Museum – with an exhibition of artworks by Sir Winston Churchill and artifacts from the famed statesman, an exhibition of works by Southern artists from the Johnson Collection and an exhibit of works by three Tunisian artists curated by a Wofford student – open to the public on Wednesday, May 17. (See below for details of each exhibition.)
Hours for the public to enjoy these and future exhibitions are: 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 1 to 9 p.m. Thursday; the venues are closed to the public on Sunday and Monday. Admission is free.
“The extensive use of glass on the exterior of the building is designed to have the artwork and building functions on display and to invite visitors into events and exhibits,” says architect Ron Smith of McMillan Pazdan Smith. “In addition, the natural light enhances the creation of artwork and human performance.”
More than being a showcase for the permanent Chihuly sculptures, Wofford’s permanent art and artifacts collections, student artwork and works by visiting artists, the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts is a place that enhances the student experience for all Wofford students – not just those majoring or minoring in studio arts, art history or theatre.
“It was no coincidence that the plans for the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts were announced at the same time we unveiled Wofford’s Strategic Vision,” President Nayef Samhat says. “This center for the arts will play a vital role in the Wofford community because it embodies imagination, invention and collaboration. No matter what fields or disciplines students pursue, a strong arts program promotes a creative approach that is critical to success in today’s complex world. As we develop a more vibrant community in and out of the classroom, we want to provide a stronger presence in the interdisciplinary, creative activities supported by theatre and the visual arts. This facility allows us to do that.
This center also will serve the larger Spartanburg community as well as the entire Upstate of South Carolina, Samhat continues. “From hosting a major exhibition such as the works of Sir Winston Churchill and beautiful mountain scenes in works loaned by the Spartanburg-based Johnson Collection to student-produced art and theatre performances, Wofford now is an exemplary showcase that will draw residents and visitors to this area to campus. We’re proud to have this opportunity, and thank Jerry and Rosalind Richardson for their generosity and support in making this possible.”
The Center for the Arts is the home of Wofford’s Department of Art and Art History and Department of Theatre. It includes state-of-the-art spaces for both departments for instruction, performances and exhibits.
The facility is a gift to Wofford from Jerry Richardson, a 1959 Wofford graduate and a member of the Wofford Board of Trustees, and is named in honor of his wife, Rosalind Sallenger Richardson. Jerry Richardson is the founder and owner of the NFL Carolina Panthers.
The Center for the Arts, located at the academic core of the Wofford campus, features two performance theaters – the 320-seat Jerome Johnson Richardson Theatre and the Sallenger Sisters Black Box Theatre. The Richardson Family Art Museum and the Richardson Family Art Gallery are featured spaces for the display of student artwork, visiting artists’ works and specific art and artifacts exhibits.
Current exhibitions in Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts
“Passion for Painting: The Art of Sir Winston Churchill”
Richardson Family Art Museum
May 17 through Sept. 16
A collection of paintings by Sir Winston Churchill, “Passion for Painting: The Art of Sir Winston Churchill,” the exhibition offers a unique opportunity to view paintings rarely seen in North America. Bringing together 10 paintings from the esteemed collection of the family of the late Julian Sandys, grandson of Churchill, and from the collection of the National Churchill Museum, the exhibition surveys both Churchill’s landscapes and seascapes, the artist-statesman’s favorite subjects. Beginning with his work from the 1920s, the paintings on view represent four of the five decades in which Churchill pursued what was for him the greatest of hobbies.
The exhibition is a collaboration between the National Churchill Museum at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, and Wofford College. It also includes several objects from the permanent collection of the National Churchill Museum, including a cigar humidor given to Churchill by the people and government of Cuba (1946); a top hat signed by Churchill, President Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin (1945); and a rare dispatch box from Churchill’s time as chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1915). Also on view will be several items from Churchill’s visit to Westminster College, where he delivered his most significant post-war speech, the “Sinews of Peace,” commonly known as the “Iron Curtain Speech” on March 5, 1946.
“The Mountains Are Calling: High Seasons in the Carolinas from the Johnson Collection”
Richardson Family Art Museum
May 17 through Sept. 16
“The Mountains Are Calling: High Seasons in the Carolinas from the Johnson Collection” features works as varied as their makers – from the majestic, highly detailed 19th century panoramas by William Frerichs and Andrew Melrose to the ethereal, impressionistic views by Lawrence Mazzanovich and Margaret Law.
In sweeping scenes atop iconic peaks to vignettes of secluded woodland streams, both native-born and visiting artists expressed their reverence for the Appalachian’ Southern province. The ephemerality of nature offered additional possibilities for creative exploration by considering seasonal changes. Vibrant fall foliage gives way to snow-covered summits before bursting with lively flora and humid haze – all transient conditions rendered permanent by the artist's brush.
The Johnson Collection offers an extensive survey of artistic activity in the American South from the late 18th century to the present day. The Johnson family is committed to creating a collection that captures and illuminates the rich history and diverse cultures of the region. By making masterworks from its holdings available for critical exhibitions and academic research, the collection hopes to advance interest in the dynamic role that the art of the South plays in the larger context of American art and to contribute to the canon of art historical literature. The collection also seeks to enrich its local community by inviting the public to interact with these inspiring works of art. Wofford College and the Johnson Collection enjoy a partnership that includes opportunities for students to serve as visiting curators of exhibits from the collection.
“Printemps des Arts: Subtleties of Resistance and Renewal”
Curated by Wofford College sophomore Meghan Curran
Richardson Family Art Gallery
May 17 through Aug. 19
The exhibition “Printemps des Arts: Subtleties of Resistance and Renewal” is the capstone project for Wofford College sophomore Meghan Curran in her Middle Eastern and North Africa concentration. The exhibit includes contemporary art from three Tunisian artists, Hammadi Be Saad, Ghalia Khadar and Souad Chehibi. The pieces pieces exemplify art as a form of activism, whether for environmental protection or freedom from oppression. The theme of resistance is clear as is the theme of renewal; while these artists tackle profound social and political situations, they also reclaim a sense of power and express hope for an improved future. The 27 pieces are from the collection of Dr. Cathy Jones, a professor at Converse College.
Sculptures by Dale Chihuly
A beacon of color and light greets visitors as they enter Wofford College’s new Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts into the main lobby from the center of campus. The striking, yet warm autumnal shades of red, orange and yellow are the elements of the Cerise and Amber Persian Ceiling created by renowned American sculptor Dale Chihuly. Entering from the main parking lot of the center for the arts, from Memorial Drive along the south side of campus, visitors are welcomed by yet another stunning Chihuly sculpture, the Goldenrod and Crimson Persian Chandelier. Both sculptures were commissioned specifically for the center for the arts and were created to honor the commitment arts of Jerry and Rosalind Richardson and their ongoing ties to both Wofford and the Spartanburg community. Chihuly and his team worked closely with the Richardson family, representatives of Wofford and the design team to realize the magnificent and elegant legacy works of art for the campus. The colorization of the artwork was inspired by images of fall foliage that were particularly chosen and much loved by Mrs. Richardson. The sculptures are permanent installations.
Venues within Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts
Jerome Johnson Richardson Theatre
The Jerome Johnson Richardson Theatre, the centerpiece of the facility, is designed as a state-of-the-art performance venue with specialty lighting, proper acoustics, a full stage and fly-loft, orchestra pit and a catwalk system. The theater seats approximately 320 guests, including a balcony and four individual seating boxes. The theater can accommodate a speaker and includes a large projection screen and projector. The lobby of the theater is designed to host pre-function events and includes a catering kitchen and indoor and outdoor spaces for entertainment.
In the main lobby, outside the Jerome Johnson Richardson Theatre, is a portrait of Rosalind Sallenger Richardson by Santa Fe, New Mexico, artist Ned Bittinger. The portrait is a gift to Wofford from Rosalind and Jerry Richardson’s daughter and her husband, Ashley and Steve Allen, and grandchildren and their spouses, Caroline and Chris Campbell, Martha and Matthew Allen, Lukas and Ivey Allen and Hannah and Evan Myers.
The theater is named in honor of Jerry Richardson.
Sallenger Sisters Black Box Theatre
The Sallenger Sisters Black Box Theatre is a two-story, multipurpose space designed for unique performances as well as rehearsals and practice sessions. In addition, the space serves as an instructional space for a variety of coursework at Wofford. The theater includes specialty lighting, proper acoustics, a catwalk system, a suspended flooring system and direct loading access from the loading dock.
The theater is named in honor of Rosalind Sallenger Richardson and her sisters, Jacqueline Sallenger Allsup, Claire Sallenger Martin and Marion Sallenger Fall.
Richardson Family Art Museum
The Richardson Family Art Museum is a dedicated art museum designed to accommodate Wofford College’s permanent collection of artwork and artifacts as well as works of guest artists and specific art exhibits. The space is located on two floors, connected visually and physically by a large opening in the floor that enhances both spaces. Specific lighting is designed to best illuminate the space with the flexibility to accommodate a variety of art exhibits. In addition, a security system is included as well as a heating and air-conditioning system with humidity controls needed to protect the artwork on display.
The museum is named in honor of the Richardsons’ children, the late Jerome Johnson Richardson Jr., Mark Sallenger Richardson and Ashley Richardson Allen.
Richardson Family Art Gallery
The Richardson Family Art Gallery accommodates a variety of options for the display of student artwork with the ability to have other exhibits and displays as well. The lighting is designed to illuminate the space to best showcase the artwork on display. The space is located adjacent to the main lobby and has a transparent entry that invites visitors into the space. Flexible walls that connect and open to the lobby allow for pre-function entertainment as well as the ability to combine events in the art gallery and the Jerome Johnson Richardson Theatre.
The gallery is named in honor of the Richardsons’ grandchildren, Caroline Allen Campbell, Steven Matthew Allen, Jerome Johnson Richardson III (Wofford Class of 2010), Lukas Richardson Allen, Hannah Allen Myers, Rose Katelyn Richardson (Wofford Class of 2013), Asbury Sallenger Richardson, Claire Couch Richardson and Raven Rosalind Richardson.
The Center for the Arts includes three art studios and offices and studio space for the faculty. Included are a 3-D studio, a 2-D studio and a painting studio for students. These multipurpose venues can accommodate a variety of art instruction and the creation of individual artworks. Natural lighting and light fixtures designed specifically for art studios enhance the space. In addition, outdoor studio space is convenient and easily accessible. Individual cabinets provide storage for each students’ artwork and art supplies and other amenities for clean-up and maintenance.
An acting studio, green room, dressing rooms, costume shop and scenery shop support the events in the theater. The faculty suite has 10 offices and a conference room. A variety of collaborative and informal learning spaces are included in the building.