Davidson alumnus Paul Schulz '82 has purchased and donated back to the college Ten Days, a literary and visual art collaboration between two Davidson professors in 2010 and 2011. Schulz made the donation of poetry and drawings to honor his former professor and long-time faculty friend, former Vice President for Academic Affairs Clark Ross.
Ten Days was created by Herb Jackson, Douglas C. Houchens Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts, and Alan Michael Parker, Douglas C. Houchens Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing. The two men selected 10 random days during a 15 month span on which Jackson created a painting and Parker created a poem. They worked completely independently, with neither seeing the other's work. The only rule was scale—Parker's poems were to fit on an 8.5-by-11 inch piece of paper, and Jackson's drawings would fit a 7-by-10 inch sheet.
When Jackson and Parker finally revealed their works to each other, they realized that the pieces were connected in almost mysterious ways. For example, on day 10, Jackson's work involved the use of horizontal lines, and Parker's poem concerned climbing into a childhood tree house.
When Schulz was a student at Davidson, he majored in economics—taking the first course Ross ever taught at Davidson in the fall of 1979—but he also took every art course possible to further develop his creative gift. He and Jackson formed a unique bond, and though their styles were different, they helped each other grow.
"It is extraordinary that an opportunity existed for me to make one gift that so closely touches Herb and Clark," said Schulz. "I took just about every class Clark offered during my time as a student, not unlike a lot of my classmates. He has a way of making a lot of not fun courses fun. Herb and I see the visual art world similarly, even though he is an abstract artist, and I am a representational artist who focuses on nature and wildlife. Herb challenged me."
The artists are overjoyed to see this special project live on through Schulz' generosity.
"I am thrilled that Ten Days will reside at Davidson, as the project represents for me a model of collaborative verve and trans-disciplinary ambition," said Parker. "How right, too, that the work should be donated in the name of Dean Ross, who has been the project's greatest champion. This was an invigorating, eye-opening project for me, artistically. Honored to work with Herb Jackson, and trusting his brilliance, I nevertheless had no sense of how to define success within the agreed-upon parameters. My feeling is that the results succeeded well beyond my assumptions, which amazes me."
"I think this project is an extremely visible example of collaboration between disciplines," said Jackson. "It has received tremendous response every time we presented it. I am so pleased that Paul's generosity makes it possible for future students and the greater community to encounter it for years to come."
Clark Ross is honored to be recognized in this way by Schulz, and because Ross will return to the Davidson faculty following a one-year sabbatical, he will be able to enjoy the collection well into the future.
"The exercise and creativity itself represents liberal arts and Davidson," said Ross. "I was excited by the original presentation of Ten Days, and it is gratifying for me to see it continue in this extraordinary way. It is very meaningful to be associated with these three people."
Schulz' first job out of college, a greeting card design manager with Hallmark Cards, combined both art and business skills. He pursued the position in part through his friendship with Davidson classmate, David Hall '84, whose family owns the Kansas City-based company.
Schulz then moved on to his family's business, Florida Chemical, which he managed for 21 years. He always wanted to make a significant impact for Davidson, and when his company was acquired by publicly traded company Flotek, he had the resources to consider the opportunities available to him. Ten Days is a project that represents everything Schulz loved about his time as a student as well as passions he continues to pursue through his art work.
"The morning the business announcement was made, I immediately called Clark," said Schulz, who serves on the college's Board of Visitors, "because I knew I could finally make this gift. Since graduating in 1982, I have seen Davidson's fingerprints in all meaningful endeavors in my life, and I'm pleased to give back in this way."