If you have visited the Art Museum of West Virginia University, you have seen work by artists managed by Jacob Lewis. A 2001 graduate of the School of Art & Design, Lewis has always stayed connected to his alma mater, volunteering his time on the College’s visiting committee and bringing art from around the world to Morgantown. Now, he’s giving back to support the College’s building expansion campaign in hopes to give future students a workspace to prepare for the ever-shifting art industry.
Lewis grew up in Huntington and attended WVU as a printmaking and painting dual major. While in school, he landed internships in New York City, first with a small printmaking studio, then with Pace Prints. He returned to Pace after graduation and worked in many roles, from shipper to receptionist to junior art dealer, finally establishing Pace Prints' Chelsea gallery as its first director.
In 2014, Lewis opened Jacob Lewis Gallery in New York City and now represents internationally renowned artists including Shepard Fairey, Nicola Lopez and How and Nosm. He arranged for the latter duo to paint a mural on the wall in the lobby of the Art Museum of WVU. Fairey’s pieces can be seen in the museum through October in an exhibition titled “Shepard Fairey: Work Against the Clampdown.”
“It’s great to have the artists that have inspired me come to WVU,” Lewis said. “I’ve gotten to know these artists and helped introduce them in the conversation of contemporary art. Now I am getting the chance to bring that back home to share with the people and community I love.”
Lewis, who says his college experience at WVU was the best time in his life, has now taken his dedication to the college one step further, pledging his support to the Creative Evolution – the campaign to expand the Creative Arts Center.
“Every time I come back to Morgantown as a member of the visiting committee, I visit the CAC and it hasn’t changed since I was a student more than 15 years ago,” Lewis said. “Even then the building had been around for decades.”
“Art is not just making a painting in your studio. Technology, and social media in particular, has changed how society interacts with art. Art now influences most fields or industries. The crossover is enormous in fields like fashion, architecture, advertisement, engineering, product design and therapy where creative thinking and problem solving skills are learned from practicing art. Most of these fields also reach out to practicing artists to collaborate with, and our students have to be able to keep up with that.
According to Lewis, more space and facilities with updated technology will go a long way to give students the best experience possible.
“We have to have facilities with advance technology so our students can compete into today’s society. Artist’s studios are a place of creativity and invention, but they also have become corporations that understand how to market, license and protect their IPs for the artist’s personal benefit. Today’s artist studio is just not a place to paint, but a business. By embracing and introducing new technologies to the students, we are giving them a chance to build an artist studio that can exist and function in the 21st century.”