Honoring the Life of Vivian Davidson Hewitt-bwin体育
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Honoring the Life of Vivian Davidson Hewitt

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vivian-hewitt-pic-1.jpgVivian Davidson Hewitt ’43 studied Psychology and French during her time at Geneva. After graduating, Vivian went on to many great accomplishments. 

During her time at Geneva Vivian was a leader on campus. She served as Co-Editor of The Chimes, was a member of the French Club, and a member of the Writers Club. In 1944, just one year after leaving Geneva, Vivian graduated with an M.S. in Library Science from Carnegie Mellon University. Upon graduating, she became the first black librarian in Pittsburgh.  

Vivian and her husband, John, were passionate about art. Their hope was to instill a love for art and for the community. This journey began when they first got married. Together, they took the money they received and used it to purchase art. This started a lifelong passion and tradition of giving and receiving art for birthdays and other celebrations throughout their lifetime, collecting over 500 pieces of art. 

Vivian was passionate about making art collections accessible, and supporting African-American artists. Her life is a living example that art and collecting art is not reserved for the wealthy. 

When asked during an interview with PBS why she collected art, she replied, 

“For me, collecting art is a deeply emotional experience. It evokes memories. Every time John and I bought a painting together, each of us brings our own personal experience to it. It evokes pleasant memories, or childhood memories, or a place we have visited—the colors the movement of the people. We have visited a lot in Haiti, Mexico, Africa.” 

Vivian’s life is full of many accomplishments and successes. In 1978, she became the first black President of the Special Libraries Association. She also received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Geneva College. She also had a significant impact on the arts and community throughout her lifetime. 

Trawlers in Chesanso by Dominic Terciliano, Jr. in 1987Trawlers in Chesanso by Dominic Terciliano, Jr. in 1987

The Vivian Davidson Hewitt Collection is a gallery of over 40 works of art Dr. Hewitt and her husband collected over the years and donated to Geneva College. The collection is now displayed in the library. 

Her art collections were also featured as “Instill and Inspire: The John and Vivian Hewitt Collection of African-American Art” at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. In 2017, Vivian was honored as the Heinz History Maker of the Year in Education. 

Besides donating her collection to Geneva College, Vivian remained engaged with Geneva throughout her life. In 2011 she was the speaker at our annual Dr. King Night of the Arts. In 2012, she also spoke as the commencement speaker at our Center for Urban Biblical Ministry (CUBM).  

Vivian Davidson Hewitt passed last year, 2022, at the age of 102. Vivian Davidson Hewitt led an inspirational life. She demonstrated that collecting is not reserved for the wealthy, supported so many artists, empowered African American artists, and left a legacy of art and culture that will impact students and our community for years to come.  


Feb 17, 2023

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