SUMMIT, NJ — Unlike many notable private art collections that serve the public good only after they have been donated to a museum (or turned into museums of their own), the Mott-Warsh Collection was conceived to fulfill a larger social purpose.
In a brief narrative on the brochure for the exhibition Recharging the Image: Selections from the Mott-Warsh Collection at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit, Stephanie James, the Mott-Warsh Curator and Collection Educator, describes the genesis of the project:
Fifteen years ago, Maryanne Mott and her late husband, Herman Warsh, set out to make a difference in her community of origin, Flint, Michigan, by facilitating meaningful engagement with art. Troubled by the steady decline of art education in public school systems across the United States and noticing the lack of art by people of color in many of the nation’s fine art museums, they decided to establish a collection of art by artists of the African diaspora and others who reflect on it.
It wasn’t enough, however, to acquire the artwork and support the artists. The plan was to show the collection “in public institutions in the city of Flint and beyond — in non-traditional art venues, such as the public library, the health department, and local churches, as well as cultural and educational institutions.”
The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey nurtures the capacity for personal expression, expands the creative experience and fosters stronger communities by empowering people to see, make and learn about art. Through exhibition, studio school and community programs, the Art Center engenders connection, curiosity and creative risk-taking among its constituents.