Williamson Awarded Grant from the NEA


Detail of rare silk bedcover to be conserved with NEA grant funds.

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa announced on April 23 that the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery of Scripps is one of 817 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. The Williamson Gallery is recommended for a $30,000 grant to treat four Chinese textiles, the oldest of which is a rare silk bedcovering dating from the late sixteenth to early seventeenth century.

The goal of this project is to engage Southern California residents, including students of all ages, as well as a national and international audience via the web and provide them with experiences of diverse and excellent art through the conservation, publication and exhibition of rare and captivating Chinese textiles.

Acting Chairman Shigekawa said, “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support these exciting and diverse arts projects that will take place throughout the United States. Whether it is through a focus on education, engagement, or innovation, these projects all contribute to vibrant communities and memorable opportunities for the public to engage with the arts.”

Of the bedcovering, Professor of Art History and Humanities, Bruce Coats, notes, “This is an extraordinary example of fine quality kesi-style tapestry weaving. The delicately rendered designs, done in minute needlework, depict imaginary birds and fantastic animals frolicking amidst flowers, clouds, and auspicious jewels to create an otherworldly environment for an aristocratic marriage bed. When conserved, this panel would be the centerpiece of many exhibitions as an example of luxury goods made for Chinese elites, as a system of visual symbols to bring blessings and good fortune to the original owners, and as a delightful menagerie of animals to amuse children visiting the gallery. Of the various Chinese textile panels in the Scripps College collections, this silk bedcover has been cited again and again as one of the finest pieces and of international significance.” Textile conservator Yadin Larochette will treat the work. Once conserved, the tapestry will be used by students, who work with Professor Coats to organize exhibitions in conjunction with courses in Asian art.

In August 2012, the NEA received 1,547 eligible applications for Art Works grants requesting more than $80 million in funding. Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. The 817 recommended NEA grants total $26.3 million and span 13 artistic disciplines and fields. Applications were reviewed by panels of outside experts convened by NEA staff and each project was judged on its artistic excellence and artistic merit.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA website at arts.gov.