Hello, Dalí: ArtMate Lets Students Add an Upscale Touch to Dorm Decor
A new program at Davidson is bringing high-end art to residence halls. Thanks to ArtMate, students can now dip into the college’s art collection, replacing their movie posters or tapestries with big-name art.
ArtMate officially rolled out at the beginning of the spring semester. And sophomore Vincent Scauzzo was first in line at the Katherine and Tom Belk Visual Arts Center to make his pick.
Lia Newman, the director and curator of the Van Every/Smith Galleries, and gallery staff chose about 80 pieces of the college’s 4,000 works to display in the lobby around the college’s signature Rodin statue.
Scauzzo, a classical languages and literature major, bee-lined for a print of a person on horseback charging with a lance at a yellow figure. Bypassing other, more colorful, more eye-catching works, Scauzzo couldn’t resist this one with the large signature in the lower right-hand corner.
“It’s a Dalí,” he said. “It’s not every day you get to hang a Dalí in your college dorm. Are you kidding me? The rest of my dorm is just filled with posters of race cars and my calendar. And then here’s a Dalí!”
Scauzzo chose “The Quest,” a print by legendary surrealist Salvador Dalí. The artist’s work “The Persistence of Memory” graces many a dorm room wall—but in poster form. Through ArtMate, Scauzzo reeled in an actual Dalí print that will hang in his dorm room for the rest of the semester.
The idea behind ArtMate gestated for years—a handful of other schools, including MIT and Williams, have started similar programs. Davidson’s program was nearing roll-out before the pandemic emptied campus.
When students returned, Newman and her team shelved it so they could focus their exhibitions on the social-justice conversations happening around the world. But before long, a handful of students approached Newman, asking her to revive the idea.
“The students asked for it,” Newman said. “And it made so much sense because they were spending so much more time in their rooms last year. They really felt like ArtMate could brighten their rooms and their lives.”
The college's Art Collection Advisory Committee, composed of alumni and friends of the arts at Davidson, rallied behind the project, raising funds and donating art. ArtMate is still in a pilot phase, limited to a small group of students who live in select dorms with nail-ready walls.
Davidson College’s permanent collection includes more than 4,000 pieces that span more than five centuries. The collection has evolved to reflect the Davidson community and the curators, students, alumni and collectors who have shaped it. Through ArtMate, students have the opportunity to connect with the collection in a more personal way.