Emile Mathis: An Artful, Art-filled Life
For Emile Mathis, art was a vocation and an avocation. Art was in Emile's DNA. And University of Wisconsin-Parkside students, facility, and gallery goers were beneficiaries of his artistic passion.
"Emile was a prolific art collector," said UW-Parkside Gallery Director and Curator Patricia Briggs.
Mathis' tastes ran from Renaissance and Baroque fine art prints to Chinese ceramics to African masks to prints by Warhol and Lichtenstein. A sampling of his African pieces, titled "African Art from the Mathis Collection," served as the inaugural exhibition in the university's new Fine Arts Gallery. It also provided interdisciplinary participation--anthropology students researched the artwork, music students composed music inspired by the show, art faculty served as curators.
"He was incredibly generous with his time and with his collection," Briggs said. "Not only did he present countless talks about the history of printmaking over the years in studio art classes but he also regularly worked with interns and offered his gallery to UW-Parkside students for their senior exhibitions."
For Dean Yohnk, a visit of Mathis' Racine art shop helped him make up his mind to join the UW-Parkside faculty.
"Emile spent a good deal of time telling me about all of the great things occurring at UW-P and in the community. He spoke glowingly about the thriving cultural life of the community, due in large part to the great programming at UW-Parkside," Yohnk, UW-Parkside's dean of the College of Arts and Humanities said. "His energy, enthusiasm, and passion truly had an impact on my decision to accept my position at UW-Parkside and now, 13 years later, I am very glad that I made this community and campus my home."
Yohnk called Mathis "an ambassador and advocate" for UW-Parkside.
Mathis' contribution to UW-Parkside went beyond placing his name on the E.H. Mathis Gallery and beyond providing student scholarships. He was proof that art is an essential part of life and education.
"Emile promoted a greater understanding of art through his selfless sharing of collections, exhibitions, and programs," said UW-Parkside Director of Development David A. Diaz. "Emile proved that the arts and art education help students acquire the assets they need to succeed."Emile Mathis passed away Sunday, July 15.