The Art Collections and Gallery’s primary mission is to increase the knowledge and understanding of our diverse global contemporary culture through the micro-lens of the vast visual histories and cosmologies of the descendant communities of Louisiana. The Art Collections and Gallery believes in the power of art to change communities. It facilitates this transformation through the organization and production of exhibitions, publications, educational materials, conferences, lectures, workshops and other public programs, with a particular emphasis on the study, presentation, preservation and promotion of art produced by Louisiana-based artists and artists of African descent throughout the world.
The Xavier Art Collection was the brainchild of Xavier President emeritus Dr. Norman C. Francis, who with his son, collector Timothy Francis and celebrated artist and professor John T. Scott, envisioned surrounding the students with the fine art and material culture of Africa and its diaspora. For Francis, this meant not only including work by renowned artists such as Aaron Douglas, Romare Bearden and Elizabeth Catlett, but pieces by Xavier students and alumni dating back to 1937.
Today, the Collection is a major repository of work by teachers such as Sister Lurana Neely and MacArthur Genius award recipient John T. Scott, who led the Art Department for 40 years. The collections also includes the work of many of Scott’s students and protégés, such as Martin Payton, Frank Hayden, Ron Bechet, MaPo Kinnord Payton, Steve Prince, Terrence Osborne and Kimberley Dummons, all of whom have taken to heart Scott’s most profound lesson, “Each one teach one.”
There are six major collections in the Xavier Art Collection: the Blanche and Norman C. Francis Art Collection, The Brandywine Print Workshop, the Bishop Moses Anderson Collection, the Audreon Bratton Collection, the John Henderson Collection, and a collection of work assembled by John T. Scott and Timothy Francis. Past donations to the University Art Collections include: more than 500 works of African American art and traditional African textiles and sculpture from the collection of noted art historian Dr. Regenia Perry, a major selection of Haitian paintings from the late Audreon Bratton’s collection, a collection of African and Asian sculpture donated by Dr. James Blackwell, and Bishop Moses Anderson’s major collection of works by Louisiana-based artists such as John T. Scott and other important African American artists such as Charles Bibbs, Frank Hayden, Varnette Honeywood, William Pajaud, Martin Payton, Steven Prince and Charles White.
Established in 1935 by Ferdinand Rousseve, Ph.D., the Art Department at Xavier University of Louisiana has a unique and important history and relationship to the Art Collections and Gallery. Numa Rousseve—Ferdinand Rousseve’s brother and eventual successor as department head in 1948—was deeply involved in the department’s initial formative years. Along with Sister Lurana Neely, he cultivated a set of principles in Xavier art students that the Art Department, Collections, and Gallery still promote today. Among these principles are a spirit of cooperative learning and a commitment to community-based arts projects. These principles were kept alive by John T. Scott in his role as head of the art department and cultivator of the university art collection for 40 years.
Xavier’s major fine art and art-related collections are currently housed throughout the University, including more than 3,000 objects of art and a sizeable collection of books, artists’ papers and archival materials that reference a global history of art with a particular focus on works by and about African American, Caribbean and Latin American artists. The Xavier Archive’s holdings also reflect a unique focus on late twentieth-century Louisiana-based artists.
Professor Numa Rousseve Teaching Painting Students at Xavier University of Louisiana
Sister M. Laurana, S.B.S., Teaching a Ceramics Class at Xavier University of Louisiana
Group of Xavier University of Louisiana Fine Arts Students at Work in the Mornell Memorial Art Collection Room
Xavier University of Louisiana Fine Arts Students Mr. Brown and Mr. Pajaud View Their Artwork in the Exhibit Hall of the Xavier Library Building. Photographed by Arthur P. Bedou. ca. 1946