MSSU Carvings

Madison Soetaert, a junior studio art major and gallery assistant from Carl Junction, sorts through the collection of carvings donated by the family of Mel Mosher.

A collection of Inuit carvings has been donated to the Missouri Southern State University art department by the family of Mel Mosher, a former faculty member.

The collection includes nearly 20 pieces that depict seals, birds, a walrus and other figures, created by artists from Canada’s Northwest Territories.

Mosher, a professor emeritus of the chemistry department, and his wife, Donna, had collected the soapstone carvings for many years before their deaths in 2010 and this year, respectively.

“It was probably the late ’60s or early ’70s when they started collecting,” said son Michael Mosher, a Colorado resident who delivered the pieces to the art department, in a statement.

“Our mother was from Canada, both of our parents were from the Pacific Northwest, and they really enjoyed this kind of art. ... They would find and purchase them, and for as long as I can remember, we had pieces in the house,” he said.

Michael Mosher and his two brothers each kept a piece from the collection that had sentimental value to them, donating the rest to Missouri Southern. He said it makes sense for others to be able to enjoy the carvings now, and he believes their father would appreciate other people being able to look at the pieces.

Frank Pishkur, chair of the art department, said the collection adds diversity to what is already offered.

“Most of the pieces are quasi-contemporary, from within the last century. We don’t have a lot of contemporary holdings, so it’s exciting to be able to have these on campus,” he said in a statement.

The collection could go on display after it is catalogued, the art department said. It previously was exhibited in MSSU’s Spiva Gallery in 2009, when the university was celebrating its Canada-themed semester.

The works donated to MSSU also include two ebony heads created by Nigerian artists; they will be included in the art department’s permanent study collection of African art and artifacts.

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