As the genesis of the Elon Art Collections, the General Collection includes numerous prints and original works donated to the university. The largest component of the General Collection is the Priestly Collection. Mary Ellen Priestly and husband S.E. Gerald Priestly were former Elon faculty members who made several generous donations to the university, beginning with their gift of an oil painting of the USS United States, one of the first “official” United States Navy ships, titled The United States by British artist Kenneth Carter.
Over the years, Elon University has been the recipient of a number of gifts from the Priestlys including 26 remarkable works by noted Japanese printmaker Sadao Watanabe. Watanabe's work, considered Mingei or Japanese folk art, is a combined expression of his Christian faith and his interest in traditional forms of Okinawan stencil dyeing.