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Monday, Nov 29, 2021

Exhibit opens in Tarver to showcase glass works donated by Mercer alumnus

Some of the collection of the glass exhibition can be viewed on the main floor of Tarver Library currently.
Some of the collection of the glass exhibition can be viewed on the main floor of Tarver Library currently.

On Thursday, the exhibition “Glass: The Substance that Shapes our World” was unveiled at Jack Tarver Library.

The exhibition is from the collection of Yulssus Lynn Holmes, who is a Mercer alumnus.

R. Scott Nash, a professor in the Roberts Department of Religion at Mercer, currently curates the collection. He took over the project six years ago after the last professor who was curating the collection retired. Nash is a longtime friend of Holmes, and they have traveled to the Middle East together.

Holmes first became interested in archeology after meeting a professor who had a large archaeological collection, and after traveling to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem he started his own collection in 1967. After becoming good friends over the years, Holmes eventually bought the professor’s collection in 1985. 

Holmes was initially asked to sell the collection to Mercer and declined but later decided to give the collection to Mercer instead.

Mercer first began displaying parts of the collection about ten years ago. Since the entire collection cannot be displayed at once, every other year items are selected for display.

“We signed an agreement with Mercer about 12 or 13 years ago to give the collection to Mercer, but in the beginning, several people from Mercer would come to our home and take the parts of the collection that were related to the theme that they had picked for that year,” Holmes said. “They would keep those pieces at Mercer on display for a year and then return them to me when they came to get other pieces for a new exhibit.”

The full collection came to Mercer about five years ago. The collection includes ceramic materials, metal pieces and wood objects as well as glass.

The ceremony on Thursday, which was open to the public, featured five professors as speakers, who gave presentations related to glass at the event. These speakers included Eniye Tebekaemi, who spoke about the importance of glass to computer science, and Thomas Bullington and Erin McClenathan, who discussed the use of glass in literature and art.

“Glass really was first produced on an industrial by the Romans, and we have a lot of Roman glassware in the collection,” Nash said. “Doing some research for that, I came to realize how pervasive the influence of glass is in every part of our culture and technologies.”

The brochures and posters for this year’s collection were designed by Mercer students enrolled in a graphic design course.

"“That was another one of Mr. Holmes’s wishes, that Mercer students would get to use this in a variety of ways," Nash said. "That’s happened this year.”

Holmes said that displaying the collection at Mercer has been worthwhile. 

“My wife and I wanted the collection to be at Mercer because my undergraduate degree was from Mercer and also because of the location of this university in Macon, the key city of central Georgia and much of south Georgia, the areas in which I was born and reared,“ Holmes said. “Mercer has done all of the things that they promised to my wife and me and we have been very pleased with everything that Mercer University has done with the collection.”


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