Sam Schwartz, alumnus donates extensive Inuit art collection to the U of S

An important collection of Inuit art collected by Sam Schwartz and his wife over a span of nearly 40 years is now on display in the Edwards School of Business atrium.

"The placement fits perfectly with my vision and I am pleased to donate the collection to my alma mater rather than a museum," said Schwartz, who made the donation in memory of his late wife Margaret. "I wanted visitors to have more interaction with the art. I wanted something inspirational for students that they could see without the reverence of a museum."

While acquiring the collection, one important characteristic to the couple was that most pieces were handcrafted no later than the mid-1900s.

"In doing so, we recognized we were looking at carvings that must have required extraordinary creativity and dedication by the artist," said Schwartz. "There was no electric power in the north during the time they were created, people had to remain indoors, their lighting by lamps, likely fueled with whale oil."

Daphne Taras, dean of the Edwards School of Business, is thrilled that her students will benefit from the donation, and said it helps reinforce the relationship between business and art. "It's completely appropriate for a business school to celebrate artistry. The placement of the collection in a well-lit atrium on the main floor of the college will help motivate students in their studies.

"The art inspired us to turn what was a very rundown but beautiful atrium into a living gallery," Taras said. "I wanted students to be sitting among the art, so that it's alive within the building. Now, students sit within a foot or two of what is among the most beautiful art in Canada."

The majority of the artworks are now on display and other pieces will rotate at regular intervals.

A native of Moose Jaw, Schwartz originally enrolled in the College of Arts and Science to pursue a bachelor degree in chemistry. Once completed, he changed direction to realize his true passion—economics—and switched to commerce to complete his second undergraduate degree.

Since then, he has had a successful career with the energy company Conoco in a variety of roles, including leading international operations to expand the company's reach across Europe and in Libya. Before retiring in 1988 he concluded his career as an executive vice-president of Conoco and as a senior vice-president of DuPont.

Schwartz will be honoured at the official collection launch this spring.
For more information, contact:

Jennifer Thoma
University of Saskatchewan

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