Organized around a central, light-filled atrium, the 43,000 square-foot Katherine and Tom Belk Visual Arts Center offers abundant teaching, studio, office, meeting, work, storage, and gallery spaces. The "VAC" is home to both Art History and Studio Art.

It houses two galleries for visiting and student art shows, as well as an AV-equipped lecture hall, seminar room, and studios for art majors and faculty.

Built in 1992-1993, the building is modeled after two of Davidson's oldest buildings, Eumenaean Hall and Philanthropic Hall. It was named in 1998 for Katherine McKay Belk, a member of the Davidson Board of Trustees and her husband Tom Belk, Class of 1946, a member of the Board of Trustees from 1972-1984. 

Visual Art Center (VAC)

Van Every/Smith Galleries

Just inside and to either side of the front entrance of the Katherine and Tom Belk Visual Art Center are the , providing 1,800 square feet for rotating exhibitions. The Galleries support the academic mission of the college through the presentation, interpretation, and discussion of primarily contemporary artworks in all media for students and members of the Davidson community, as well as for national and international visitors to the campus. 

In addition to working with professional artists, the Galleries also host solo exhibitions by graduating senior art majors, and an annual student exhibition featuring art created by students from across the entire student body.

a group of three men stand together in an art gallery talking

Permanent Collection

The Galleries maintain a  that offers students and members of the community an opportunity to interact with and research over 4,000 works of art spanning more than five centuries. The collection, which includes works by notable artists such as Rembrandt, Picasso, Bearden, Abakanowicz, and Shonibare, are cataloged and housed in climate-controlled quarters located within the Visual Arts Center. 

The works are displayed in the Galleries and academic buildings on campus and are studied and incorporated into various courses. Through the College's ArtMate program, Davidson students may select art works curated from the college's collection to hang in their dorm rooms by gallery staff, which can remain there for the duration of the academic year.

Additionally, works are available for loan to other regional, national, and international art institutions.

Student painting in art studio

Studio art courses are taught in lab and studio facilities for painting, printmaking, sculpture, drawing, and digital media. The 6,500 square-foot sculpture area enables students to work in wood, clay, plaster, metal, and features an outdoor bronze foundry and 3D printing capabilities. On the second floor are large classroom studios for painting and drawing, as well as a state-of-the-art digital lab.

Senior studio art majors are granted individual studios. Faculty offices with adjoining studios and a comfortable student-faculty lounge complete the Visual Arts Center's space.

Students enrolled in classes in the Visual Arts Center have CatCard access to facilitates from 6 a.m. - 2 a.m. daily. 

Semans Lecture Hall

Art history courses are taught in the 50-seat lecture hall, the Mary D.B.T. Semans Auditorium, with comprehensive audio-visual capabilities. The adjacent seminar room also provides digital access and study space. The digital collection of more than 70,000 images is available as a resource to students. The lecture hall is named for Mary Semans, former chair of the trustees of The Duke Endowment. 

Student doing art in VAC
two young women stand together smiling over a printing press

The centerpiece of the atrium is Auguste Rodin's Jean d'Aire, gifted by the Pepper Family in conjunction with the dedication of the Belk Visual Art Center. In the process of completing his largest public commission, Monument to The Burghers of Calais, Rodin made many studies of the models, including this full-body, larger-than-life nude study of Jean d’Aire. .

Rodin at the VAC
Student Gallery Intern Sets Up Books, Part of Yinka Shonibare's "American Library"
Students in art class
ϳԹessor and student dressed in protective gear pour liquid bronze at the bronze foundry.

Bronze Foundry

The outdoor bronze foundry is located off the Belk Visual Arts Center. Sculpture students have the opportunity to cast works in bronze through the lost-wax process, essentially creating hollow wax models of their pieces, which are cast in ceramic molds to be replaced by liquid metal. The foundry contains a furnace and kiln.

Two students work with machinery that cuts wood for a sculpture at the Sculpture Lab

Sculpture Lab

Basic and advanced sculpture courses take place in the 6,500 square-foot sculpture area at the Belk Visual Arts Center. The equipment enables students to work in media such as wood, clay, plaster, metal, and 3D prints.

Belk Visual Arts Center exterior, framed by a dogwood tree and pink flowers
Roadsign

Directions

Located at 315 North Main Street, The Visual Art Center is at the southwest corner of Griffith Street and Main Street. Parking is available directly behind the building off of Jackson Street, or along Main Street.