A panoramic view of Lex I, by artist Meleko Mokgosi '07

During a visit to the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) in 2017, Anne Ricketson Avis ’81 and Gregory M. Avis ’80 were taken with an exhibition featuring Lex I, a massive work by the Botswana-born artist Meleko Mokgosi ’07.

“We were awed by Lex I’s beauty and scale and, moreover, how it presented and provoked thought about issues including but not limited to race, gender and democracy,” Greg Avis recalls. “It seemed that the work’s destiny was to be permanently housed at WCMA.”

Thanks to the Avis’ generosity, that destiny has been fulfilled. Lex I (2016-2017) is now part of WCMA’s permanent collection.

A chapter of Mokgosi’s series Democratic Intuition, completed between 2013 and 2020, Lex I consists of seven large-scale panels that consider the complexities of democracy and the daily experiences of diverse populations in southern Africa.

In addition to gaining attention worldwide for his artwork, Mokgosi is co-director of graduate studies in painting and printmaking at the Yale School of Art, New Haven, Conn., and co-founder of New York’s Interdisciplinary Art and Theory Program. He was recently commissioned to create large-scale murals for the walls of Williams’ newly re-opened Davis Center, including a series that pays tribute to murals painted by the artist Jerome Meadows that once graced the walls of the Black Student Union when its home was in the lower level of Mears House.

Lex I is the latest in a number of recent acquisitions, including the paintings Just a Dream (In America) by Vincent Valdez and Women Off Color by Hung Liu.

“These additions to the collection strengthen the museum’s representation of work by Black, Asian American and Latinx artists,” says the museum’s Class of 1956 Director Pamela Franks. “We are thrilled to feature these works in our collection, where they will support teaching across disciplines and provide opportunities for students, faculty and other museum visitors to engage with global issues of social and racial justice.”

Photo, at top: Lex I, on view during the Lex and Love: Meleko Mokgosi exhibition at the Williams College Museum of Art in March 2017. Photograph by Arthur Evans