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The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum | Hollins University


Current Exhibitions

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is currently open ONLY
to current Hollins students, staff, and faculty.
See below to visit our current exhibitions online.
You can also find us on Facebook @eleanordwilsonmuseum
and Instagram @wilsonmuseum
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 2018

Women Working with Clay Symposium, 2018.


Expanding Narratives:
Conversations with the Collection
currently available online

Faculty members from across academic divisions have collaborated with museum staff to select works from the collection that investigate key course concepts and provide extended access to the individual works of art. Participating departments include art history, biology, classics, English, gender and women studies, history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and studio art.

and now her own

Tip Toland, And Now Her Own, 2019. Stoneware clay and mixed media. Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University, 2020.001.


Unveiling the Past: Reckoning with Our History of Enslavement at Hollins
currently available online

In spring 2020, students in the Cultural Property, Rights and Museum course began working on an exhibit, Unveiling the Past: Reckoning with Our History of Enslavement at Hollins University, in conjunction with members of the Hollins University Working Group on Slavery and Its Contemporary Legacies. The exhibit examines objects and images held by the University Archives in the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins University. Material researched by students are on display in this virtual exhibit. Those working on this exhibit wanted to create a public space to reckon with our Hollins past and give a forum to those who were not given a voice, name, space, or attention in the past. It is the goal of this exhibit to show the lasting effects slavery has had, and continues to have, here; and, to recognize that Hollins continues to benefit from a history of enslavement.

clem in long coat

Clement “Clem” Read Bolden (b. ≈ 1846, d. February 19, 1929). Courtesy of the University Archives in the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins University.


Exploring Visual and Conceptual Space:
Student Selections from the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum
currently available online

Using selected works from the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum’s permanent collection, student curators put theory into practice in this virtual exhibit which is the culmination of the spring class, “Behind the Scenes: Principles and Practice.” As part of the class, students collaborate and share responsibility for conceptualizing, researching, designing, and interpreting a cohesive exhibition. Each student selected two works that spoke to them based on academic, personal, and aesthetic interests. The exhibit features works created by well-known artists Giovanni Battista Piranesi, John James Audubon, Käthe Kollwitz, Paul Klee, Salvador Dalí, and Andy Warhol, as well as works by Hedley Fitton, Jean Lurçat, Paule Gobillard, Eudora Welty, and others.

When placed together, these works form an image of the Eleanor D. Wilson collection as a small but artistically and historically rich collection – especially when seen through the eyes of Hollins student curators Madelyn Farrow, Faith Herrington, Sylvia Lane, Mairwen Minson, Kaiya Ortiz, Valerie Sargeant, and Maddie Zanie.


Henry Varnum Poor, Anne, c. 1940s. Oil on panel, 8.5 x 7” (framed). Art department acquisition, 1946. Courtesy of the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University, 2005.283.


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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