Tsagaris/Hilberry Collection represents some of the finest pieces created by Detroit's Cass Corridor artists
It’s the dream of art collectors to have their collections — which they have passionately assembled over many years and deeply love — remain together in perpetuity. The Wayne State University Art Collection has made that dream come true for John Hilberry and his late wife, Andronike “Nicky” Tsagaris, ‘78 by displaying all 60 gifted works of art from their beloved collection into the beautiful setting of the historic Tierney Alumni House. The strong, clear visions of Hillberry and Tsagaris can be felt when viewing this collection in its entirety, rather than as singular art objects. The collection clearly reflects the couple’s “radically original and critical eye,” according to Hilberry, as well as their adventurous spirits.
An event celebrating the return of this important collection to Detroit and Wayne State University was hosted by one of the college’s prestigious art alumna, Ruth Rattner, in June. Hilberry family and friends, members of the WSU community, and some of the artists whose works are featured in this collection came together to pay tribute to Hilberry and Tsagaris.
“As the new art collection curator, I am honored to be the steward of this important collection and to have the opportunity to use it as a tool to inspire and engage our students and the community as a whole,” said Grace Serra, Wayne State University Art Collection curator and coordinator.
The Tsagaris/Hilberry collection represent some of the finest pieces created by Detroit’s Cass Corridor artists, a group often referred to as Detroit’s first avant-garde. As Hilberry explains, “this important movement took place largely because of Wayne State and the art department there.” This significant gift expands the collection to more than 1,500 works by artists of the Cass Corridor movement, and will add to the rich and extensive resource materials for scholars pursing research on the Cass Corridor movement and its influence on contemporary American art. It is John Hilberry’s hope that art students will look at the work and say “this was done by someone in a position that is not that much different from my own.” This hope is best realized with this beautiful permanent display of artwork. Not only will it inspire art students, it will also inspire all who visit the Tierney House and serve as an enduring legacy of two great visionaries who touched the lives of so many in Detroit