A version of this article appeared October 31, 2012, on page A18 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Putting a College in Focus.
By V.L. HENDRICKSON
Photographer Ansel Adams is known for his stunning landscapes and images of the American West. Before his death in 1984, the artist created sets of signed prints, known as the "Museum Set," part of a larger project he didn't complete. Only 10 sets are thought to be in existence, one of which was recently donated to the College of New Rochelle by Caryl Horwitz.
Ms. Horwitz made the gift in honor of Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly, a former president of the college who died in 2009. The set, valued at about $2.5 million, includes 75 of Adams's most famous photographs, including "Moonrise," "The Tetons and the Snake River" and photographs of artists Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. The gift was celebrated earlier this month at the college's Castle Gallery, where 15 prints were framed and displayed.
"My husband bought the prints in the 1970s," said Ms. Horwitz, who is a photographer herself. "I wanted to give them to a college art department with a gallery where they could be shown."
The College of New Rochelle was a perfect fit, especially since Ms. Horowitz had served as the director of the college's graduate art department until her retirement in 1986.
Ms. Horwitz also wanted to remember the long-time president of the college, Sister Kelly, who helped expand the college from an undergraduate women's college on one campus to a co-ed institution with four schools and seven campuses. During her 25 years as president, the student body grew from 900 to more than 6,500 and established campuses in Brooklyn, Harlem and the South Bronx.
Judy Huntington, the current president of the College of New Rochelle, said the college is "so delighted" to receive the prints, and has formed a committee to determine "how we can best use the prints academically and how we can share them with the community." Some of Ms. Huntington's ideas for the prints include using them in the art therapy and environmental studies programs, as well as exhibiting the work at the college's branch campuses, including its location at Harlem's Studio Museum.
"There are tremendous possibilities," Ms. Huntington said. "It's tempting to lock them away because they are so valuable. But they should be shared, studied and viewed."
Ms. Horwitz, who is 88 years old, is especially proud of the College of New Rochelle's branch campuses, one of which is near her childhood home in Brooklyn. She lived across the street from the Brooklyn Museum and the botanical gardens. "The Brooklyn Museum was really my place. It had a big impact on me," she said, noting her career as a photographer and arts educator.
Now, she lauds the college for bringing more higher-education opportunities to students throughout New York and looks forward to the photographs being displayed at all the campuses. She hopes the prints will lead more people to the College of New Rochelle. "Ansel Adams is extremely well known and the pictures are extremely beautiful," she said. "I hope they will open the college to people who've never heard of it."
Pictured here: Caryl Horwitz. Photograph rights of The WSJ.