Elon University’s most extensive collection, the International Art Collection includes pieces from Asia, Africa and Haiti. More than 400 in number, the collection represents the efforts of several generous donors. Stateswoman, educator, and 1924 Elon graduate Isabella Walton Cannon (for whom the Isabella Cannon International Centre is named) generously donated objects from her work and travels to various countries, including: China, the Republic of Liberia, Iraq, the Republic of Kenya, and Zimbabwe.
The most voluminous portion of the collection came through the efforts of Dr. James Lankton, a retired Winston-Salem anesthesiologist. Dr. Lankton presented Elon University with two large gifts (one in 1992 and another in 2003) of African art. The Lankton portion of The International Art Collection contains objects from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Africa, and Ghana. In addition to the African works from Cannon and Dr. Lankton, the collection also features two Bamana (from Mali in western Africa) antelope headdresses, known as Chi Wara and presently on display in the Belk Library, given to Elon by James and Shirley Jensen.
Also included in the International Art Collection are more than 100 pieces bequeathed by North Carolina artist, educator, and politician Maud Gatewood. The Asian objects from Gatewood, acquired through a lifetime of travel, embody her belief that the journey from “home” instills a perception of “realness” to the world. Lastly, the International Art Collection has several pieces from Haiti donated by former Elon professor Ralph Kerns.