African Art Donated to Philander Smith

9/10/2015


POSTED ON SEP 7, 2015[Dr. Roderick Smothers, center, listens as Dr. Kevin Katz shares details about the African art he and his wife, Dr. Melissa Katz, left, donated and personally delivered to Philander Smith College on July 24.]Dr. Roderick Smothers, center, listens as Dr. Kevin Katz shares details about the African art he and his wife, Dr. Melissa Katz, left, donated and personally delivered to Philander Smith College on July 24.

Philander Smith College on July 24 received a gift of 25 pieces of African art valued at $950,000 from the Melissa and Kevin Katz Collection. The Katzes drove from Texas to deliver the art in person.

The generous donation includes an assortment of sculptures, masks and ceremonial pieces—some decorative, others made for use in rituals.

An art exhibition including the Katz Collection opened Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, in the Donald W. Reynolds Library, as a part of the slate of events celebrating the Aug. 29 inauguration of Dr. Roderick Smothers Sr. as president of Philander Smith College. Students studied the pieces so they could give guided tours of the collection.

World travelers who are passionate about Africa, Melissa and Kevin Katz are both optometrists from Dickinson, Texas, who practice in the Galveston suburb of Clear Lake. Born and raised in South Africa, Kevin Katz came to the U.S. in 1976. The couple has previously donated pieces from their extensive collection to Huston-Tillotson University, Texas Southern University and Prairie View A&M University. The Katzes want the works they donate to be used as educational tools to inspire future generations of artists, collectors, researchers and anyone interested in learning about the history of Africa.[Dr. Roderick Smothers admires a ceremonial helmet from the Mende people, given to Philander Smith College by Drs. Melissa and Kevin Katz of Dickinson, Texas. It is one of 25 pieces of art that came mostly from west and central African countries. AUM PHOTOS BY AMY FORBUS]Dr. Roderick Smothers admires a ceremonial helmet from the Mende people, given to Philander Smith College by Drs. Melissa and Kevin Katz of Dickinson, Texas. It is one of 25 pieces of art that came mostly from west and central African countries.
AUM PHOTOS BY AMY FORBUS

Smothers says the donation emphasizes one of his goals for the college: a reinvigoration of the arts and humanities.

“We will take great pride and care to showcase these impressive works as part of our extensive art collection housed on campus,” he said.

A four-year, historically Black liberal arts institution, Philander Smith College is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is the only United Negro College Fund member school in the state.