View of Morehouse College campus. (Photo: Morehouse College)
George Wells, a business executive in New York City, has donated $1 million worth of artwork to his alma mater, Morehouse College, the nation’s only all-men’s historically Black college in Atlanta, Georgia.
CNN reports that Wells, founder of the management consulting firm Wells Group of New York collection included artwork from artists such as McArthur Binion, Rashid Johnson, Mickalene Thomas and Amy Sherald, who famously painted First Lady Michelle Obama‘s portrait in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
The seven-figure art collection includes eight pieces that deal with issues of racial inequality and other concepts.
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The eight pieces came from the personal collection of Wells and his husband, Manfred Rantner, which has grown to over 50 pieces of artwork. Wells said he wanted to thank Morehouse — which has produced alumni such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Spike Lee — for putting him on his current career path.
“I will always be grateful for my Morehouse education and the springboard it created for my career on Wall Street and in business, and I want to recognize that with this gift,” said Wells who graduated from the college in 2000.
Wells said that the pieces he donated from artists like Johnson and Sherald were like “owning a piece of history.”
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“Their practices both showcase Black resiliency and triumph but in different ways and from different gender perspectives. It is my hope that this gift will serve as an impetus for furthering racial equality within the art world during this exceptionally vulnerable time for Americans and race relations,” added.
Wells said he also hoped that his gift would be an impetus for cultivating more Black leaders in the art space.
“Morehouse doesn’t yet have a permanent art collection, so I thought if I could gift this art collection to them, the halo effect and the impact it would have on cultural discourse would be paramount,” said Wells.
“In the art world, there are so few Black people in positions of power, so if we start at the core, which is education, and educate more people about the contemporary art world, we could make that world more inclusive.”
This past summer, Morehouse College was the recipient of another large endowment, receiving a $40 million donation from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, philanthropist Patty Quillin, according to The Undefeated. Their donation, the largest to an HBCU in history, was one-third of a $120 million donation plan that included Spelman College and the United Negro College Fund.
This past April, Morehouse and Microsoft joined forces to provide Microsoft Surface laptops for each newly enrolled student, as reported by theGrio.
In 2019, theGrio also reported that billionaire Robert Smith donated $1.5 million to Morehouse, as well as pledging to pay the tuition of the entire graduation class that year.
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