Source: Hoosier Times
When David Brenneman began working as director for the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University, he was on the lookout for collectors.
That’s how he met Bill Itter, IU professor emeritus of fine arts, and eventually found himself in Itter’s home, checking out his collection of African ceramics, textiles and baskets.
“His home is filled to the brim with works of art that he collected over the years,” Brenneman said. He described Itter’s collection as a library of art. “He’s collected these things, he’s lived with these things, he’s had a chance to compare and contrast these things in a way even a museum curator wouldn’t be able to.”
Last week, the museum announced that Itter would be gifting more than 500 handmade ethnographic pieces, valued at close to $4 million. The gift will enhance the art museum’s internationally recognized sub-Saharan African art collection.
Through the objects collected, future generations will be able to not only study African art but also experience the legacy of Itter’s life’s work. According to Peg Faimon, founding dean of IU’s School of Art, Architecture and Design and a former student, Itter demanded the highest quality of work to prepare them for careers in the arts.
“Bill continues his teaching by attending weekly critique sessions for our M.F.A. students, and they benefit from his rich knowledge and experience,” Faimon said in an email. “His influence over countless art and design students at IU cannot be underestimated. Our school and the arts culture of IU have been forever changed by his teaching excellence.”
Although Eskenazi Museum remains closed for renovations, when it reopens, it will be home to a viewing room named for Itter and his late wife, Diane.
Uniquely, the gift did not stop there — Itter also wanted to provide resources to fund the study and care of the objects.
“When we receive gifts of art, it’s wonderful, and we love it,” Brenneman said. “But in the end, you need resources to activate and bring those works to life. ... He liked collecting, holding and studying these things, and he wants to ensure that future generations of students and faculty and visiting scholars have the opportunity to do that, too.”
Herald-Times Arts Editor Jenny Porter Tilley can be reached at 812-331-4377.