VSU Celebrates Opening of Art in Odum

November 3, 2011

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Celebrates Opening of Art in Odum


VALDOSTA -- Fourteen members of the William H. Mobley IV family were in attendance Friday, Oct. 28, when Valdosta State University officially unveiled a piece of art commissioned in memory of their husband, father, brother, and uncle.

Through his work with the Library of Congress, Mobley acquired more than $1 million worth of books for VSU’s Odum Library. When he died from a heart attack at his Arlington County, Va., home at the age of 76 on May 23, 2010, funds donated by his family and friends were matched by funds from the university’s Art Funding Pool to commission a piece of art in his memory.

The Mobley family gathered around the mixed media creation celebrating books through art during the two-hour reception officially kicking off VSU’s Art in Odum initiative. Titled “For the Love of Books” and created by Amalia Amaki, the artwork features two children dancing on top of “a solid bottom foundation of books, surrounded by a plethora of buttons. The books include child psychology and education books, as well as literature, history, and even dictionaries,” according to information provided by Deborah Davis, certified archivist, director of VSU Archives and Special Collections, and chairwoman of the Library Art Committee. “Buttons are mundane treasures; any child whose mother sewed can remember playing with these domestic ‘jewels.’ The children, dressed as dancers with button jewels, reach towards a book in the top right corner called ‘The Sky’s the Limit.’ This is a happy composition, full of promise.”

Referring to the details of the piece, Roseanne Mobley said that her husband always had a dictionary and an atlas nearby.

“Seeing those featured in the piece really struck a chord with me,” she said, adding that her husband really loved children. “This means a lot to me.”

Of the more than 50 pieces of art currently on display at VSU’s Odum Library, the Amaki piece might best be described as the tie that binds the library’s past to its future.

Davis said that Odum Library “has by far the largest art collection in the university,” something staff members discovered when the library was undergoing a renovation and the university formed a special committee to advise the campus on acquisitions and policies regarding its art holdings. She said everything simply came together at just the right time, allowing the library to become a place for research and a place for discovery, a destination promoting education through the unexpected.

The Odum Library currently has two full art collections on display. The Lamar Dodd Collection is housed on the north side’s first floor and features 20 paintings and prints from a variety of significant 20th century and a few 19th century artists. The Ross Rosenberg Collection is housed on the north side’s second floor and features 15 very big paintings and drawings, 15 very tiny drawings, and two sculptures.

Also hanging inside the library, in the Hub Gallery Area on the north side’s second floor, is Amaki’s “For the Love of Books” and four pieces from the Charles and Jeannette Kessler Collection of East Asian Art, which will open in full in January 2012.

Rosenberg, a New York-based artist, attended the Art in Odum reception. His work was first displayed at a past VSU Fine Arts Gallery show, “Works on Paper,” and several of his smaller creations were purchased at that time, Davis said. Because he had such a positive experience in Valdosta, he went on to donate several additional pieces to the university roughly two to three years ago.

“I am really glad to see all these pieces together in one place,” said Rosenberg.

Speaking at the reception, Interim VSU President Dr. Louis Levy said that libraries have come a long way over the years. However, they have always maintained the same purpose -- to promote learning.

“Libraries are learning resources,” he said. “I celebrate with you this library and the people who have infused it with books, technology, art … all forms of learning.”

For more information about the Art in Odum initiative, contact Deborah Davis, certified archivist, director of VSU Archives and Special Collections, and chairwoman of the Library Art Committee, at (229) 259-7756 or dsdavis@valdosta.edu, or visit www.valdosta.edu/news/releases/odumart.101011.
For more information on the Lamar Dodd Collection, visit www.valdosta.edu/news/releases/doddart.101411.
For more information about the Ross Rosenberg Collection, visit www.valdosta.edu/news/releases/rosenberg.102111.
For more information about the Jeannette and Charles Kessler Collection, visit www.valdosta.edu/news/releases/kessler.102411.
For more information about Amalia Amaki’s “For the Love of Books,” visit www.valdosta.edu/news/releases/amakiart.102711.