SUAAC 60th Anniversary

60th Anniversary Celebration

With the exciting gift from John and Libby Reese (officially renaming the Collection to honor the enduring legacy of Dean Mark Reese), we’re launching a two-year fundraising effort to elevate this remarkable program to the next level. Campus events, regional events, virtual events, digital marketing and media relations efforts will shine a spotlight on the unique history, university impact and human interest stories that are embedded in the Collection and the alumni cohorts who chose and acquired the artworks. In the fall of 2023, a capstone event will be held to: celebrate the re-naming of the Collection; honor Mark H. Reece; announce the results of a successful fundraising campaign to support care and conservation efforts; and bring together alumni and other constituents with affinity for the Collection, Dean Reece and Wake the Arts.

The Student Acquired Collection of Contemporary Art

In the fall of 2023, Wake Forest will celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the first Student Union Art Buying Trip. Established in 1962 by Dean of Students Mark H. Reece (’49), the Student Union Collection of Contemporary Art is remarkable in that it is a collection conceived of by students, purchased with University funds, and selected by a student committee. Every four years since the first New York buying trip in 1963, a small group of students, under the direction of an Art Department faculty member, have researched contemporary artists and the contemporary art market and purchased new artworks for the Wake Forest Art Collection. Included are paintings, prints, drawings, photography, and sculpture by such notable artists as Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson, Alex Katz, Robert Colescott, Glenn Ligon, Kiki Smith, and Shirin Neshat. The Student Union Collection is now the University’s premier collection, numbering nearly 200 artworks by over one hundred different artists. This program is the first of its kind at a university.  

Aspects of the program have been emulated at other universities, but the Wake Forest program is considered by academic museum directors and galleries to be the best model. Major goals for new acquisitions include 1) to acquire the best quality artwork with the funds available, and 2) to acquire work that reflects current trends in the art world during that student group’s generation or four-year period.

For more history on the Student Union Collection, the online catalogue, database and other Wake Forest Art Collections, see


Means of Identification
New Acquisitions to the WFU Student Union Collection of Art

poster for Means of Identification

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Recent Acquisitions

Every four years since 1963, a small group of students has traveled to New York City, with University funds, to purchase art for Wake Forest’s Student Union Art Collection. They are charged with choosing works that reflect the times. An extraordinary time called for an extraordinary response, and despite restrictions posed by the pandemic, the 2021 student committee delivered. The group’s priority in selecting this year’s art has been adding diversity to the collection.

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Get Involved

Excited about the celebration? Find out how you can get involved as we celebrate this extraordinary program, fund the conservation of our historic collection, and reconnect with alumni from the buying trips. Contact Beth McAlhany to join the effort.

Meet the Steering Committee

A steering committee of alumni and supporters has been formed to help guide the future of our beloved collection.

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Selections from the Student Union Collection of Contemporary Art

Click on an image to learn more.

Shirin Neshat image

Marjan (Masses) from The Book of Kings series
Shirin Neshat

Hat on Shoulder
Carroll Dunham

Shahzia Sikander image

Maligned Monster #2 (Double Standing Figures)
Shahzia Sikander

Marclay image

Memento (Hearing is Believing)
Christopher Marclay

Andrew Struth image

Grazing-Incidence-Spectrometer Max Planck IPP. Garching, Germany
Thomas Struth

Robert Colescott painting

Famous Last Words: The Death of a Poet
Robert Colescott

Provided by Marian Goodman Gallery and © Thomas Struth, 2021
© Christian Marclay
Courtesy Shahzia Sikander and Sikkema Jenkins and Co.
Reproduced with permission of Carroll Dunham.
Copyright retained by Shirin Neshat or artist’s representative.