Collecting with an Open Hand

The Perrys

The Perrys

He’s a software engineer who earned a doctorate in computer science after majoring in music and philosophy. She’s a former social worker who studied psychology and plays the organ. Neither took a single art class at Westmont, but Dewayne ’62 and Faith Mell ’62 Perry have become educated and passionate collectors of prints, especially 16th and 17th century Dutch prints. Reynolds Gallery featured a handful of these works in February, and the Perrys promised the collection to Westmont as a teaching tool.

Early in their 47-year marriage, the couple chose to pursue common interests, especially music and collecting. Dewayne started buying books and music as a college student; today the Perrys’ library features 9,000 volumes and thousands of CDs and musical scores. Their other interests range from 18th century English porcelain to American antique furniture, rugs, ceramics and work by Texas artists. The couple moved to Austin in 2000 when Dewayne joined the faculty at the University of Texas there.

Just as the porcelain became prohibitively expensive, Faith and Dewayne happened upon a London shop selling old prints. Fascinated by the beauty of these works and delighted by their affordability, the couple switched their focus to Dutch print-makers, who often chose biblical themes.

Avid life-long learners, the Perrys conduct extensive research into the items they collect, including the prints. They buy related books and use libraries, the Internet, museums, galleries and print study rooms to educate themselves and train their eyes. In particular they seek works that will be effective in the classroom. In the print room at their Austin home, the Perrys rotate the works they display on their walls just as a museum would.

Grateful for their college years, the Perrys are excited to leave something tangible to the college. “I love the sense of community at Westmont,” Faith says. “It’s hard to put our experience into words; we know our education set us up for life and taught us how to continue to learn.”

“Those who’ve been given much should give back,” Dewayne says. “We’ve been careful stewards of our resources, and we’ve chosen to invest in beautiful things that we can enjoy and share with others.”

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