Herb Jackson '67
Walter Herbert Jackson knew at 12 years old that he was to be an artist, and he never wavered. As a happy result, he has helped many find their own relationships with art, with themselves, and with the world around them.
The John W. Kuykendall Award is presented to an alumnus in recognition of extraordinary service to his or her community, demonstrating leadership through servanthood in the spirit of Davidson's fifteenth president. Herb Jackson is doubtless one of Davidson College's most creative servant-leaders.
As a member of the Class of 1967, Herb served his college community on the Union Board, sang in the male chorus, joined the Eumenean Society, studied in Germany, won the Vereen Bell Award, made the dean's list and was selected a member of Omicron Delta Kappa honorary leadership and service society. He married fellow artist and love of his life Laura Grosch, earned his master of fine arts degree from UNC Chapel Hill, and returned to Davidson in 1969 as an art instructor in the fledgling department. Soon he launched the Davidson National Print and Drawing Competition, an early building block for what would become Davidson's 2,600-piece art collection. Meanwhile, he and Laura created a "family collection" of their own, their sons Leif Air Fire Grosch Jackson and Ulysses Water Earth Grosch Jackson. On campus, Herb's passion for art was the vital force behind the Katherine and Tom Belk Visual Arts Center dedicated in 1993. Herb was further instrumental in the acquisition of the Auguste Rodin sculpture and the Kenneth Noland painting that define the center's soaring atrium to this day.
Like that atrium, Herb himself has provided artistic space and reference points for young student artists at Davidson, helping them to define their own approach to art. He has expanded that same sense of inviting space to his community. "Not many artists so ably evangelize for art in such a broad way as Jackson," noted one magazine writer. "He feels equally comfortable as an artist in his studio, a businessman in marketing his work, as a teacher in the classroom at Davidson and as a community activist. He has served on the Arts and Science Council, buys other artists' work for his personal collection, religiously attends art openings and events, serves as juror for shows and makes personal fundraising calls on behalf of arts causes...."
Today, installments of his "Veronica's Veils" series of abstract paintings-more than 200 and counting-grace walls around campus and around the world, as do his many other works. Jacksons hang in more than 100 museums, including the Smithsonian, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney in New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. At Davidson, Herb's legacy is everywhere present, too, from Vail Commons to the President's Home, the Carnegie Guest House, the Blackwell Alumni House, and the Alvarez College Union.
Many years ago as a young professor, Herb once made a personal donation to the art department of a shrink-wrapping machine and a roll of plastic film, to help safeguard art during transit. It is a fitting analogy for the care he has brought to his work at Davidson and to the community of art over a lifetime.
For your unwavering claim to your own artistic passion and talent for its own sake; for the steadfast hand you offer to others making that same claim in their own ways; for using your talents and passions not only for your own soul's explorations and excavations, but for sharing it to enliven and enlighten the lives around you, the Davidson College Alumni Association awards you, Walter Herbert Jackson, the John W. Kuykendall Award for Community Service on the occasion of your 45th Class Reunion.