Georgia Museum of Art receives large gift of “cutting-edge” contemporary art

This article was written by Hillary Brown and originally posted to UGA Today on March 5, 2020.

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia received a major gift from John and Sara Shlesinger consisting of 110 contemporary works of art from the Shlesingers’ personal collection, spanning a wide variety of artists and mediums.

A partial list of artists represented in the donation includes Damien Hirst, Daniel Arsham, Shannon Ebner, David Altjmed and Mike Kelley. According to William U. Eiland, director of the Georgia Museum of Art, this gift will fundamentally transform how the museum operates.

“This gift from Sara and John Shlesinger to the Georgia Museum of Art is certainly a quantitative change for our collection, but most important, it is a qualitative one,” said Eiland. “It gives us the means not only to teach and to exhibit the cutting-edge art of the past 25 years, but also allows us to help students and our general audiences to find, to understand and to step beyond that edge. Overnight, due to their generosity, we are able to extend our collection planning and augment our ability to teach in an age when visual-arts education has become more and more necessary.”

Sara Shlesinger grew up surrounded by realist and impressionist art and studied art history abroad, earning a bachelor’s in fine arts from Brandeis University. Meanwhile, John—a 1983 UGA master’s of business administration graduate—knew little about art before marrying Sara, but collected local contemporary art. Interested in starting a collection together and curious about the contemporary art world, they traveled and visited galleries and museums.

In 1997, they decided to purchase an early spin painting by Damien Hirst—now a part of the gift to the museum. The couple first focused on Young British Artists, amassing works by Hirst, Gary Hume, Sarah Morris and Gavin Turk. They then expanded their vision, developing relationships with gallerists, dealers and the artists themselves in order to fully understand and appreciate the art they collect.

After 23 years, the couple have amassed a collection of several hundred works by emerging and established contemporary artists from around the world. Most recently, the Shlesingers acquired works by Katharine Fritsch, Nathaniel Mary Quinn and Atlanta’s own Shanequa Gay.

Chen Yi, “Naomi Wang’s Anniversary,” 2006. Part of The John and Sara Shlesinger Collection

Chen Yi, “Naomi Wang’s Anniversary,” 2006.

Gabriela Palmieri, former vice chair of Sotheby’s North America and now an independent art consultant, has worked with the Shlesingers for years. Palmieri says she can think of almost no other collectors who approach art in the way the Shlesingers do, citing their tendency to take risks and the fact that they buy works because they love them and want to live with them, not as part of an investment portfolio.

“Their tendency to collect works from across an artist’s lifetime will allow UGA students to see the trajectories of different careers. That’s unusual even among people who collect contemporary work,” said Palmieri. “Their desire to educate and instruct was a driving factor in this gift.”

For example, she points to their purchase of one of Damien Hirst’s early spin paintings the year it was made. Created using a mechanism that rotates the canvas and leaving much to the power of chance, these works were a new approach to painting, almost removing the hand of the artist.

In celebration of the donation, the museum plans to have a small exhibition this summer with a larger one to follow that will introduce visitors to the works provided by the Shlesingers.

John Shlesinger is a vice chairman at CBRE, a publicly traded, global commercial real estate firm, and serves on the boards of the Atlanta History Center, Oakland Cemetery and Tech Square Ventures. He was previously a member of UGA’s Board of Visitors and the board of the High Museum of Art.

Sara Shlesinger is a community leader on both a local and national basis. She is a board member at Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum and is on the advisory board for Art 21. Sara has served on the selection committee for the Venice Biennale and on MoMA’s Modern Women’s Fund Committee. In Atlanta, she was on the founding board for the Children’s Museum and is currently involved with various organizations and working in the art world.

UGA achieves career outcomes rate of 95%+ for fifth year running

University of Georgia Class of 2019 graduates are employed or attending graduate school within six months at a rate of 95 percent—eight percent higher than the national average.

Regarding these 2019 UGA graduates:

  • 66 percent were employed full time;
  • 19 percent were attending graduate school; and
  • Approximately 10 percent engaged in post-graduation internships, fellowships, residencies, postdoctoral research, part-time jobs, or have reported their status as entrepreneurs.

“Students continue to excel in their post-graduate endeavors as UGA’s career outcomes rate has been 95 percent or above over the past five years,” said Scott Williams, executive director of the UGA Career Center. “This extraordinary level of consistency demonstrates that our students’ strong academic performance is supported through career readiness skills development and complemented by experiential learning.”

UGA graduates are now making an impact in positions across all sectors of the economy from business to government, nonprofit to education. Over 3,000 unique employers hired UGA graduates. Top employers for the Class of 2019 include Emory Healthcare, Delta Air Lines, The Home Depot and NCR Corporation.

Of those full-time professionals, 60 percent were employed before graduation and 98 percent were hired within six months of graduation.

“Internships that I secured through UGA’s job board, Handshake, provided me with hands-on experience to see that I actually enjoy sales.” said Erin Orem, a May 2019 graduate. “I was able to confidently speak about my internships at the UGA Career Fair, where I met my current employer, TTI. Using UGA Career Center resources, I began preparing for my job search in my freshman year, so I never stressed about finding a job!”

71 percent, nearly three-quarters of the Class of 2019 graduates working full-time, accepted employment within the state of Georgia. Graduates landed in all 50 states and in 43 countries in the six months after graduation, with top out-of-state destinations spanning the country and including major metropolitan areas such as Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

The 19 percent of graduates who are furthering their education have chosen top graduate or professional schools including Duke University, University of Pennsylvania, Emory University and the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

The UGA Career Center calculates the career outcomes rate each January by leveraging information from surveys, phone calls, employer reporting, UGA departmental collaboration, LinkedIn, and the National Student Clearinghouse. The preceding data is based on the known career outcomes of 8,289 graduates from the Class of 2019.

Check out a video and infographics highlighting the Class of 2019 career outcomes.

Image provided by University of Georgia Marketing and Communications/Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker

UGA Mentor Program by the numbers

If you’re considering participating in the UGA Mentor Program as a mentor or a mentee, here are some numbers you may find interesting:

FIrst Generation Mentors & Mentees

The program currently has 1,669 mentees, 1,956 mentors and has fostered 989 mentoring relationships*. This is definitely a case of “The more, the merrier,” so come join the fun. A rewarding relationship awaits!

Think you won’t find someone who shares your background or interest? Fear not. The program gathers a wide variety of information on both potential mentors and mentees. For instance, say you are a first generation Bulldog–few in your family can relate or offer advice. The Mentor Program has 319 first generation mentees and 484 first generation mentors right now. You are bound to find a connection that can relate to your situation and offer support and guidance.

Popular Mentor Discussion Topics

Unsure of what you can offer a mentee? Wonder what you would discuss with a mentor? The five most popular discussion mentoring topics are:

1. innovation/entrepreneurship
2. work-life balance
3. building your personal brand
4. maximizing your college education
5. networking/informational interviewing

There’s no doubt you will find things to talk about together!

The one thing missing from the UGA Mentor Program? It’s you!

 

*Stats are as of January 18, 2020. The program continues to grow.

You are the company you keep

Hairy Dawg & Uga

If you’re a mentor or a mentee, you’re in fine company! Consider some famous mentorship pairings through time:

Henry David Thoreau was mentored by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
This happened back in the day when, apparently, everyone used three names.

Ray Charles mentored Quincy Jones.
The talented duo met when Quincy was a teenager and grew very close. Wouldn’t you have enjoyed being a fly on the wall during some of their sessions?

Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Steve Jobs.
Advice Steve gave Mark may surprise you.

Obi-Wan Kenobi mentored Luke Skywalker.
Examples of mentoring relationships are found throughout the Star Wars storylines. You can’t talk about mentorship without mentioning Obi-Wan and Luke’s unique relationship.

With members like these, who wouldn’t want to be part of this club?
Not everyone is mentored by a famous person. Sure, Oprah was mentored by Maya Angelou, but she also counts Mrs. Duncan, her 4th grade teacher, as a mentor whose influence was vital to her development. Neither one was famous at the time.

Mentorship has its privileges.
Mentorship is a two-way street. There are benefits to both sides of the relationship. Check out some of UGA Mentor Program’s successful pairings.

Just like your mama always says, “You are the company you keep.” Make sure it’s Dawg-gone good company. Join the UGA Mentor Program.

I am a UGA Mentor

In honor of National Mentoring Month, we are celebrating UGA Mentor Month. January 8 is the national “I am a Mentor Day,” or as we like to call it: “I am a UGA Mentor Day.” Let’s hear from a few mentors about the benefits of giving back to the university through the UGA Mentor Program.

Dominique Hollaman

 

I am a UGA mentor because it is another way for me to support the mission of the university while paying it forward. During my time as a student, I had numerous mentors who guided me along my journey and continued to support me post-graduation. My professional life would not be the same without the impact of their time. In my gratitude, I choose to serve to give what was given to me. 

Dominique Holloman (BS ’01, MED ’04, JD ’04)
Chief of Staff, Office of State Representative William K. Boddie

 

My experience serving as a UGA mentor has been rewarding in ways I did not anticipate. Not only have I gotten to know two incredible UGA students and (hopefully) offered them some useful advice or ideas, but I’ve gained just as much from them! As a doctoral candidate and staff member on campus, hearing first-hand about my mentees’ experiences as students–and reflecting back on my own time as a UGA undergraduate–has been eye-opening for me both personally and professionally. Participating in the UGA Mentor Program allows me to contribute to the University of Georgia community in a meaningful, tangible way.

Julia Butler-Mayes (AB ’07)
Director of University Academic Advising Services

I am a UGA mentor because I love staying connected to the university and to current students. I would advise fellow UGA alumni to become a mentor because it is a meaningful way to support the university and its students.

What I love most about being a UGA mentor is encouraging a student who is pursuing a career in my field, broadcast journalism. I find it rewarding because I have learned so much about the remarkable courses of study being offered today, and the aspirations and values of these students and future job seekers. It is also rewarding to give back to the university I love. UGA meant so much in shaping my career and my life.

The surprising thing for me as a UGA mentor was I learned as much, if not more, from my UGA mentee as she did from me!

Kay Flowers Johnson (AB ’83)
Independent Video Content Producer
(pictured with her mentee, Taylor Maggiore)

Hear Domonique Holloman and Cara Winston Simmons share about their experiences mentoring through the UGA Mentor Program. Get in on the fun. Become a UGA Mentor today!

University of Georgia crossword puzzle

The first crossword puzzle ran in New York World on December 21, 1913, and was created by Arthur Wynne. Other newspapers began to run crossword puzzles shortly after, and the rest is history. Crossword puzzles now test our minds in newspapers, books, and more.

The University of Georgia’s independent newspaper, The Red & Black, publishes daily crossword puzzles online and in print on Thursdays, much to the delight of students seeking a distraction from their homework.

For many alumni, the R&B crossword was a daily endeavor on the bus and in (-between) classes. In honor of this little piece of UGA nostalgia, we designed a special UGA-themed crossword puzzle for you, our alumni and friends, to enjoy–after your homework is done, of course. See if you and your friends can get the answers correctly without peeking at the answers! Pro tip: we hope you remember the names of bus routes, dorms and dining halls.

Pumpkin carving for the Dawgs

There’s nothing like fall in Athens. The leaves turn red and orange, Saturdays are spent cheering for our team in red and black, and the weather (finally) cools. As the year winds down, how can a Bulldog fan make the most of it?

With themed pumpkin carving, of course. If you’re looking to create a spirited jack-o-lantern, an anti-Gator warning for your neighbors, or simply want to show off those two simple words (Go Dawgs!), your UGA Alumni Association has you covered!

We’ve created a stencil set so you can go full Athens Picasso on your pumpkin this year.

georgia-themed pumpkins

A plethora of Bulldog pumpkins.

Remember, it’s not about having the prettiest pumpkin. All that matters is that you display your love for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Don’t forget to tag us on social media (Instagram, Twitter) to share your pumpkin creations!

Below are examples of the stencils you can download by clicking on the button below!

$1.5 million gift to Odum School of Ecology honors legacy of ecology student John Spencer

Article written by Beth Gavrilles (MFA ’89)

John Spencer, a master’s student in ecology at the University of Georgia, was passionate about freshwater ecology, conservation and ecological restoration. A graduate fellowship established through a $1.5 million commitment from John’s mother and stepfather, Kathelen (JD ’82) and Dan Amos (BBA ’73), is ensuring that his legacy will reach far into the future.

“Kathelen and Dan Amos are two of the most generous and devoted alumni of the University,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Their establishment of the John K. Spencer Fellowship is a meaningful tribute to John that will help advance the important work he intended to carry out.”

John Spencer arrived at UGA in the fall of 2014 and immediately distinguished himself at the Odum School of Ecology for his hard work, ready laugh, enthusiasm and, most of all, his thoughtfulness. He cared deeply about people and the natural world. His untimely death in 2016 left his family, friends and colleagues devastated.

“John’s memory is with us every day—his smile, his optimism and passion for life,” said John L. Gittleman, dean of the Odum School and UGA Foundation Professor in Ecology. “John wanted us all to enjoy and conserve the natural world around us. This gracious and kind gift will ensure that future generations will have the chance to fulfill John’s passion.”

John’s research focused on the health of urban streams.

“John wanted to study—and positively affect—how stream ecosystems respond to stressors associated with watershed land-use change, particularly urbanization,” said professor Amy Rosemond, who co-advised John with assistant professor Seth Wenger.

John studied the effects of elevated conductivity—the amount of dissolved ions, or pollutants, in water—on invertebrate communities in urban streams as a way to measure stream health. In December 2016, the University of Georgia awarded him a posthumous master’s degree in recognition of the work he had completed toward the requirements of his degree.

The John K. Spencer Fellowship was established that year with an initial gift from John’s family and contributions from more than 370 friends, classmates and colleagues. The two-year fellowship provides a research assistantship to students in the master’s in ecology or conservation ecology and sustainable development degree programs who are interested in pursuing careers in management and conservation of aquatic ecosystems.

To date, three students have received Spencer Fellowships, and their work is already having an impact. Inaugural Spencer Fellow Emily Johnson built upon the foundation of John’s research to identify particular disturbances impacting water quality in Athens-area streams and create a real-time monitoring system that makes it easy for municipal water managers to respond to issues quickly.

Zach Butler is studying the impacts of an invasive species, the nine-banded armadillo, on the ecosystems and native wildlife of the Georgia barrier islands. Zach’s research has upturned the conventional wisdom about this species, finding that they are helping to fill part of the ecological role of the gopher tortoise, a native species in decline across the Southeast. His findings are now informing coastal ecological management plans.

Talia Levine is studying contaminant levels in fish found in the Turtle Brunswick River Estuary near a Superfund site on the Georgia coast. She is measuring PCB and mercury concentrations in whole fish because, while fish consumption guidelines for the area exist, they are based on filleted samples only, and there is evidence suggesting community residents use more of the fish than just the fillets. Talia is sharing what she learns with government agencies and nonprofit organizations in the Brunswick area to support them as they work to ensure safe consumption of seafood resources by community residents.

“The John K. Spencer Graduate Fellowship honors John by providing our outstanding graduate students the opportunity to pursue careers in aquatic conservation and management and make a positive difference, as John intended to do,” said Gittleman. “This gift ensures the continuation of John’s legacy, for which we are immensely grateful.”

Mallory O’Brien (ABJ ’12) and the secret to a soapy success

mallory o'brien

Mallory O’Brien is a UGA alumna and the brain behind Irish Spring’s Twitter account. Photo: Peter Frey

While the Bulldogs earned a “W” versus Notre Dame last month, one surprising brand also took home a marketing ‘win.’ Irish Spring, a popular soap line, enjoyed 15 minutes of internet fame thanks to an idea from Mallory O’Brien (ABJ ’12), the co-vice president for the NYC Dawgs and a social media community manager at Colgate-Palmolive, Irish Spring’s corporate parent.

After Georgia-based grocery chain Dill’s Food City announced in a now-viral post that it wouldn’t sell Irish Spring prior to the game against the Fighting Irish, Mallory had some great ideas that led to the brand reacting accordingly. 

no irish springs

A photo from the Dill City Food Facebook post that went viral.

Though there had never been a reason for Irish Spring to need a Twitter presence, this turned into the perfect opportunity to start a social media storm. Now verified with over 3,000 followers, the account has been an immediate success. 

In Irish Spring’s second tweet ever, the brand poked fun at the grocery store and claimed they were about to send a whole lot of soap to Athens. This gained almost 3,000 retweets and over 16,000 likes.

Irish Spring

Irish Springs sent quite a few packages to Athens. Photo via Irish Springs Twitter.

Irish Spring jumped head-first into the social media space, but followed only four accounts–the University of Georgia being one of them. But this wasn’t the brand’s only impact on the internet. Mallory suggested sending brand ambassadors to campus for that glorious–and crowded–football Saturday in Athens.

Irish Spring

Campus ambassadors for Irish Spring visited Athens with gifts. Photo via Irish Spring’s Twitter.

Who would have anticipated that a Bulldog was behind this campaign from ‘up north?’ Surprising as it may be, we know that all great things start at the University of Georgia.

Here’s to good, clean fun and a Georgia win!

Delia Owens Where the Crawdads Sing Book Cover

Check out “Where the Crawdads Sing” on National Book Day

For many of us, reading is a pleasure, but one too often forfeited for a Netflix binge or Instagram scroll. But September 6 is National Read a Book Day: a reminder to pour a cup of coffee and settle into your favorite reading nook.

When I fall out of the habit, the fastest way to reestablish my reading routine is a good book. A page-turning, can’t-put-down, just-one-more-chapter book. I found one. This novel comes with a bonus: it’s written by fellow Georgia Bulldog and best-selling New York Times author, Delia Owens (BS ’71).

Owens’s debut novel, Where the Crawdads Sing, is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising account of a murder investigation.

I fell in love with the main character, Kya Clark. As Owens puts it: “Kya is every-little-girl and one in a million.” She inspired both pity and awe and forced me to question my own survival instincts. Kya’s deep love of the natural world sets her apart from typical fictional characters and urges readers to appreciate the nature that surrounds them. As one line of the story reads, “… Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.” Her journey to fulfill basic human needs, like companionship, pulls the reader along and satisfies through the end.

I finished the book on a flight. My airplane neighbor caught me wiping away tears. My failed discretion got more embarrassing when the tears (good tears!) kept free-flowing, yet I remained buckled into a middle seat. I told him the truth—that the book was really good—but also avoided eye contact until we parted ways at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The Reviews

Do yourself a favor: read this book. If my recommendation isn’t enough, please see below for critics’ reviews.

New York Times Book Review Quote“The wildlife scientist Delia Owens has found her voice in Where the Crawdads Sing, a painfully beautiful first novel that is at once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature…”
—New York Times Book Review

“Fierce and hauntingly beautiful … An astonishing debut.”
—People Magazine

“Reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver, this Southern-set period novel unfurls a whodunit against a typical coming-of-age tale, when a mysterious “Marsh Girl” becomes the primary suspect of a grisly crime.”
—Entertainment Weekly

An Evening with Delia Owens (in Athens!)

On Friday, September 20, join alumni and friends for an evening with Delia Owens in the UGA Special Collections Libraries on campus. The auditorium in which Delia will speak is sold out, but an overflow room down the hall will live-stream her remarks. All attendees will have the opportunity to meet the author and have a copy of “Where the Crawdads Sing” signed ($25/person). The talk and Q&A will take place from 4-5 p.m. and the reception and book signing will be from 5-7 p.m.

More Bulldog Authors

Once you’re back in the habit of reading, check out these Georgia Bulldog authors to find your next book:

  • Stuart Woods (AB ’60) has won the Edgar Allan Poe prize from the Mystery Writers of America and had more than fifty best-sellers, including the successful Stone Barrington series.
  • Mary Kay Andrews (ABJ ’76) is another New York Times best-selling author of 24 novels including “The Weekenders,” “Beach Town,” “Ladies’ Night” and “Summer Rental.”
  • Malcolm Mitchell (AB ’15) is not only a former UGA football player and Super Bowl champion, but also a successful author whose foundation helps children discover a love of reading.
  • Michael Bishop (AB ’67, MA ’68) is in the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame and has written more than 30 books, including “The Quickening” and “No Enemy But Time.”