Cool to Collect

Paula Wallace
6 min readOct 30, 2020


Did you know that, every single day, SCAD prominently displays thousands of works of preeminent student and alumni art from the university’s private view collection within and around more than 100 buildings on two continents? Truth! Spectacular sculptures, paintings, photographs and more from our 14,000-work collection are on view at SCAD locations in Atlanta, Savannah, and Lacoste, France — and that’s in addition to the SCAD Museum of Art’s 4,500-work permanent collection. When you consider that many museums display, on average, just 2% to 4% of their holdings, it’s fair to say SCAD is as passionate about sharing as we are proud of collecting.

Installation artist and SCAD alumna Trish Andersen with an in-process, large-scale fiber piece.

From the Alumni Gallery at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah to lightboxes along Peachtree Street (“Atlanta’s Champs-Elysées”), SCAD thoughtfully installs dazzling displays that celebrate and showcase the creations of our Bees. As I often tell students and parents, SCAD students literally learn by walking around our campuses. Other universities hang stodgy portraits of ancient board members on dusty walls, but SCAD’s vibrant built environment transforms offices, residence halls, theaters, classrooms, and corridors into galleries of surprise and delight. From day one at SCAD, our students behold boundless possibility in the intricate mixed-media paintings and assemblages of Marcus Kenney (M.F.A., photography, 1999), the fantastical glass sculptures of Monica Cook (B.F.A., painting, 1996), and the larger-than-life, three-hole-punch paper airplanes of Michael Scoggins (M.F.A., painting, 2006). They glimpse their own meaningful careers in each alumni work. They absorb the aesthetics of professional art. And, instantly, they recognize that SCAD is their champion: unwavering admirer of their artistry, enthusiastic investor in their vision, lifelong mentor and friend.

Platforms that propel

Curious about the value of a SCAD education? Just look around. We let our art do the talking. In the past three years, SCAD Art Sales, the university’s preeminent art consultancy — representing 400-plus student, alumni, and faculty artists through digital sales and offices in Atlanta, Lacoste, and Savannah — has commissioned more than 50 major projects and brokered sales of more than 1,200 student, alumni, and faculty works. In artist studios from Savannah to Shanghai, from New Delhi to New Orleans, our Bees realize creations that enliven significant spaces like Mercedes-Benz Stadium — where SCAD placed more than 180 works from 54 artists in the stadium’s internationally renowned collection.

Multimedia artist and SCAD alumnus Michael Porten’s lightbox installation “Imagine” for the Mercedes-Benz Stadium Art Collection, Atlanta.

From cinema to the C-suite, SCAD Art Sales curates compelling collections for discerning clients — think Steve Madden, The Four Seasons, London’s Heathrow Airport, Netflix’s Power, and Lionsgate’s The Poison Rose — and engages the university’s 46,000-strong alumni network in cross-disciplinary collaborations. These collaborative partnerships endure and grow, as evinced by Juliana Lupacchino (B.F.A., fibers, 2017) and William Kesling (B.F.A., graphic design, 2016), whose Dime Store Red installation launched in 2019 to the delight of viewers in Savannah and beyond. In addition to creative partnerships, SCAD Art Sales emphasizes long-term engagement, as seen in our ongoing collaborations with artists including Abel Macias (B.F.A., illustration, 2002), and Shanequa Gay (B.F.A., painting, 2015).

Around the world, as galleries continue to shutter amid the COVID-19 pandemic, SCAD Art Sales’ digital storefront remains a beacon of opportunity — proof that personalized consultation and custom curation are just a mouse-click away. With every sale and work commissioned, our students witness the viability and verve of a SCAD education — just ask artist and Director of SCAD Art Sales Rachel Evans (M.A., arts administration, 2016; M.F.A., painting, 2011), whose first sale as a painter came a decade ago at a SCAD Open Studio night. Now, she helps other Bees realize their dreams — driven by the dynamism of SCAD’s raison d’etre of “no starving artists” and the university’s vast platform, which amplifies artists’ unique visions and reinforces the value of their work.

Dynamism that dazzles

People need art, and SCAD creatives are the vanguard of style and taste. At SCAD Open Studio nights, our students dazzle art patrons and make their first sales — clients frame those works long before our Bees frame their diplomas. Consider June 2020’s Virtual Open Studio (our first-ever), which welcomed new collectors and expanded our Bees’ buyers. Part of SCAD’s much-lauded spring and summer virtual offerings, Virtual Open Studio attracted 30 new-to-SCAD clients and sold 143 works by SCAD artists. Four of those works were Jaylyn Lassiter’s (M.F.A., painting), whose depictions of the power and natural beauty of Black hair spurred an immediate commission. All told, 70 SCAD artists, representing disciplines from painting to illustration, engaged with patrons from New York to California.

Wherever clients call home, they return to SCAD time and again in awe of our students’ professional prowess, Through the SCAD built environment, our Bees explore color theory, energy, the expression of brushstrokes, and more. They carry these discoveries to the classroom, where they learn the artist’s jargon — palette, pastiche, and patina, for example — in foundations courses. At SCADamp, the university’s professional communication studio, they hone their new lexicon with guidance from SCAD fine arts and communication coaches, who prime them to enthrall — speak, visualize, connect — during gallery talks, critiques, reviews, and networking opportunities. SCADamp coaching is complimentary to all students and alumni, who remain engaged long after graduation. Recently, as a 2015 SCAD graduate prepared for an artist talk, he reached out to SCADamp Communication Coach Kelly Kilgore for support. Then, he wooed and wowed. “The pointers and suggestions you offered were thoughtful and truly vital for making my artist talk successful,” he wrote to Kilgore. “In fact, I feel that it was the best artist talk I have given in a long time!!”

Investments that endure

SCAD students and alumni succeed through unparalleled professional preparation, catalyzed by the university’s singular setting.

SCAD alumnus Hasani Sahlehe with his painting, “Making Fare out of Fowl” from his site-specific installation The Jerk Chicken Shack.

If the SCAD built environment is a peerless professional showcase, it is also an experimental gallery — in the spirit of a German kunsthalle. As psychologists and researchers have shown, engagement with sublime art lessens inflammatory proteins linked to heart disease and depression, among other ailments. What’s more, other studies have found that blood flow increases when we appraise beautiful art — just as it does when we gaze at our loved ones. For these reasons and more, SCAD directs significant resources to enliven our communities while creating high-profile platforms for SCAD artists.

Ever heard of “Savannah’s 23rd square?” Our nickname for the beloved Alex Townsend Memorial Courtyard at SCAD Museum of Art embodies our university’s commitment to public engagement and alumni support. The courtyard complements Savannah’s culture yet adds a new dimension to visitors’ experiences. If the city’s traditional squares echo the past and evoke history, this new square stands as a site where statuary gives way to kinetic marvels — performances, installations, dance, song, and the rollicking, real-time drawings of SCAD deFINE Art. Profound and memorable experiences are the essence of all SCAD spaces, indoors and out. So, consider this a friendly invitation to experience art anew. Whether you’re strolling the city streets of Atlanta, Lacoste, or Savannah or seeking a special painting, sculpture, or work in any medium, our art is yours. Take a look. Collect!



Paula Wallace

Designer. Author. President and Founder of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) || ||