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The gift was made in honor of Eckerd's fifth president, Damián J. Fernández, Ph.D. Photo: Eckerd College
The gift was made in honor of Eckerd's fifth president, Damián J. Fernández, Ph.D. Photo: Eckerd College

Anonymous art donation to Florida college boosts its Latin American collection

The donation has increased Latin American visibility in the college’s collection.

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Nine works from Latin American artists have been added to the permanent collection of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The works include pieces from Chile, Mexico, Panama, El Salvador, and Cuba. The donation was a gift intended to honor Damián J. Fernández, Ph.D.,  the fifth president of Eckerd College.

The painters whose works are featured in the donation are Brooke Alfaro, Maria Martinez-Cañas, Lucía Maya and Cesar Menendez, Amelia Peláez, and Rodolfo Opazo.

The donation is valued at a total $124,000, and is intended to increase the visibility and representation of Latin American arts and culture in the college’s collection.

Arthur Skinner, a professor of visual arts at the college, says Fernández was surprised to learn the anonymous donor parted with Amelia Peláez’ 1954 painting, Peces, a piece which Skinner describes as “valuable.”

Peláez was born in Cuba in 1896, and is regarded as a significant figure and painter of the Avant-garde movement.

In 1935, Peláez’s involvement in the first National Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture helped to popularize avant-garde artwork in Cuba. 

Peces and three other paintings will be displayed in the Upham Administration Building at the college this year.

Other donations will be stored safely within the college’s permanent collection. If applicable, the paintings may also be utilized in the future for lectures and gallery exhibitions.

“When these spaces are reopened to the public, we will be happy to display our collection for the broader community,” said Skinner of future gallery exhibitions.

However, during the month of January, these paintings will be on display in one of the college’s galleries.

In January — from the hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday — these pieces will be displayed in Eckerd College’s Elliott Gallery in The Helmar and Enole Nielsen Center for Visual Arts.

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