Kathy and Earl Riddick began collecting Pre-Columbian artifacts in 1974 with their purchase of a small collection when they moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, from Little Rock. Over the past forty years, they have increased the value and scope of their collection with the addition of numerous vessels, bowls, masks, and effigy dogs and figures representing periods from 500 BC to the mid-twentieth century from a dozen geographic regions.
The artifacts are primarily from Mexico, a place with a history and culture that captured their interests as college students: Mrs. Riddick earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from UCA in Art, Spanish, and Elementary Education, and is bi-lingual. They spent their honeymoon there, and took that opportunity to begin a collection of contemporary paintings by Mexican artists. The painting collection has grown significantly; the Pre-Columbian collection is extensive, much of it currently exhibited in the Riddick’s home.
Dr. Riddick earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Chemistry and Math; he taught chemistry at UCA for two years before graduating from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to become a radiologist. Mrs. Riddick taught Spanish in Conway and Little Rock, and art at Conway Junior High. She continues to paint, specializing in and receiving commissions for oil and pastel portraits. Portraits available for viewing at UCA include Neal Buffalo (Buffalo Hall), Winfred L. Thompson (Thompson Hall) and Stanley Russ (Russ Hall).
Dr. and Mrs. Riddick continue to reside in Fayetteville. UCA students and faculty are grateful for their generous donations of Pre-Columbian artifacts, and invite other UCA alumni to become familiar with the process for such gifts of art work or donations that will assure their availability in perpetuity for educational purposes.
A significant portion of the collection was featured in a Fall 2009 exhibition in the Baum Gallery of Fine Art: the first of what UCA students and faculty hope will be many occasions. Art and Anthropology students worked with the collection at that time, photographing the objects and reconciling historic inventory lists. Since the close of the exhibition, the artifacts have been carefully packed according to conservation standards and securely stored to guarantee their continued availability for future research and interpretation. Students continue to assist with their management by entering photo-documentation and object information into The UCA Art Collection Database.