The Friends of Art is a philanthropic organization that encourages the study and enjoyment of the visual arts on campus by supporting art acquisitions and educational programs. Members are alumnae, students, faculty, staff, friends and neighbors of Sweet Briar College.
The Sweet Briar art collection was established in the mid 1930s with the enthusiastic support of the newly-formed Friends of Art and the College’s third president, Meta Glass. In the decades since, the organization has provided funds for the acquisition of more than 100 works of art and its members have donated scores more. The Friends of Art board and general members played a key role in the 1983-1984 transformation of the Refectory into the Anne Gary Pannell Center, home of the College’s primary gallery.
Friends of Art isn’t just about building the College’s collection, however. The group supports educational programs that encourage students to interact with and be inspired by the works in the collection.
In 2009, the Friends of Art board established an annual writing prize for currently enrolled Sweet Briar students to recognize excellence in academic and creative writing about or inspired by works in the permanent collection. This was followed in 2012 by the establishment of a similar prize recognizing excellence in studio art that references in some manner works in the permanent collection. In 2013, the Friends of Art began offering a stipend to support a currently enrolled Sweet Briar student in a summer museum internship. This initiative was enhanced in 2014 with the addition of an internship stipend for students apprenticing in a creative visual arts organization (such as an atelier, retreat, or studio).
In addition to this direct support of student work, the Friends of Art, through the generosity of Helen Scribner Euston ’65, purchases books relating to the College’s art collection for Cochran Library.
The Friends of Art board meets twice a year. The annual membership meeting is held in conjunction with the spring board meeting.
The Friends of Art of Sweet Briar College actively supports the acquisition, preservation and presentation of the visual arts in service to education at the College and in the broader community. The Friends of Art recognizes the benefits and joys that knowledge of the arts can bring to one’s life. The group advocates study of the arts to develop understanding of the present and historical world and to foster a disposition to think critically and creatively.