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Profiles in Giving

Henricks Art Acquisition

Dr. Joan Henricks, J69, wasn’t an art major or even an art minor at Tufts, but every semester she could be found up to her elbows in paint, charcoal, photography, or some artistic outlet. To this day she credits those extracurricular classes for helping to create what she calls an education for a lifetime, and in her retirement, she’s dedicated her time to helping others access that creative spirit.

As a docent for 10 years at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Henricks works with children, taking them to some of the pieces she finds most inspirational, from Rothko to Rivera, Rosenquist’s “Leaky Ride for Dr. Leakey” to Matisse’s “Femme au chapeau.” A few minutes into the tour, the real fun begins.

In groups of five or six, kids sprawl out on the museum floor in front of their favorite pieces, art tools in hand. Their assignment: create. “It’s so wonderful to sit in front of a piece of art and watch students be inspired by and absorb what the artist did to make that piece,” Henricks says. “They’re making a connection with art that is personal and meaningful to them, that may create a spark for the rest of their lives.”

She adds, “The more visually literate we can be and the more we can use our vision with our analytical powers, the smarter and more creative we can be in life. We can enjoy life more, too.”

The Gift

Thanks to a recent endowment from Henricks and her husband, Alan, Tufts students will have the opportunity to better combine the analytical with the visual in the Aidekman Art Gallery. The Henricks Arts Acquisition fund will provide funds to purchase artwork for the Tufts collection from recent Tufts alumni who are emerging artists. The hope is to spark inspiration, enhance the modern art experience on campus, and to surround students with artistic expressions from those who once stood in their shoes.

“This gift is a wonderful opportunity not only for artist alumni, but also for the Tufts community members who will encounter provocative and inspiring works of art during their comings and goings around campus,” says Amy Ingrid Schlegel, director of galleries and collections for the Tufts University Art Gallery at the Tufts University Arts Center.

Says Henricks, “Others may feel the way I did before: that you need to give a lot to make an impact. I no longer think that's true. Our gift is heartfelt. If people give what they’re able to give to Tufts, in a way that feels good to them, that’s the best possible outcome.”