Houghton College has received a significant gift of art from renowned artist and class of 1958 alumnus, Ben Frank Moss III.
A collection of 140 paintings from different periods of the artist’s 40-year career, will join the college’s permanent art collection to become its largest survey by a single artist. The collection of works will be prominently featured in rotation by the college for years to come.
“This generous gift from Ben Frank Moss III connects the history of Houghton’s art program with its future,” says Houghton College President Shirley Mullen. “Ben Frank Moss credits Professors Willard and Aimee Ortlip for encouraging him to pursue art as a vocation. The presence of the collection of his works here at the college will inspire current and future Houghton students to see what is possible when someone has the courage to pursue one’s calling.”
Since beginning his art career as a Houghton sophomore in 1954, Moss has gone on to have an impressive career. Known for his use of luminous color and expressive form, Moss’s work can be found in over 375 private collections today. He has also participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions at renowned institutions such as the National Academy of Art and Design, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery.
A selection of the works will be on view in Houghton’s Center for Fine Arts atrium for the duration of the college’s annual invitational exhibition each fall, and an exhibition of Moss’s drawings will be hosted in the Ortlip Gallery in the fall of 2017. At 80 years old, Moss remains active in his field and plans to continue donating select artworks to the college.
Moss has also created the Ben Frank and Jean Moss Gallery program, an endowment fund that will support Houghton’s Ortlip Gallery. According to Alicia Taylor, assistant professor of art and printmaking at Houghton, “The endowment will provide funding for the creation of the annual Ben Frank and Jean Moss Invitational Exhibition that will support both emerging and established artists whose work brings a unique voice to the ever-evolving conversation of contemporary art. The artists selected will echo the lasting impression of Ben Frank Moss’s passion to articulate the life of the mind through creative work.” Endowment funds will also be used to create a catalog of the pieces included in the annual invitational exhibition, which will then be added to the college’s permanent art collection. All students, faculty, staff, visiting artists, and members of the Houghton community will have access to these catalogs.
Throughout his extensive career, Moss has always maintained his ties to the college. “Ben Frank Moss and family members have been long-time supporters of the art program at Houghton, and this most recent gift of artwork and financial support will serve to expand and enhance the art program for many years to come,” says Taylor.