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A Closer Look: Corporate Art Culture at SAS

When I think of art collectors, names like Cosimo de’ Medici and Peggy Guggenheim come to mind.  But art collecting these days is not limited to individuals and their families.  In fact, many of the most impressive collections in the world belong to large corporations.  The local software company SAS is among them.  I spoke to Roxanne Hicklin, the director of Art and Scenic Operations at SAS, to find out more. 

The Art department at SAS began with a love for artwork and creativity shared by CEO Jim Goodnight and his wife, Ann.  The couple began avidly collecting art in the 80’s and 90’s, and soon after established an Art department at their company capable of managing the growing collection.  They believe that art contributes to a pleasing environment for employees, inspiring creativity and enhancing productivity.  They must be getting it right:  for two years running, SAS has been named No. 1 on the Fortune 100 list of Best Companies to Work For.

SAS has a unique approach to supporting art.  Unlike most companies, who simply buy art from outside sources, SAS chooses a more active role in the creative process.  They strive to create from within, employing two prolific artists-in-residence to create many of the paintings on their 900 acre campus.  The Art and Scenic Operations departments employ nearly 20 additional people with a vast array of capabilities: from CAD design and cabinet-making, to painting and framing.  They even have metal welders, who can fabricate large-scale sculptures like this one at Wake Med Soccer Park:


Among Roxanne’s favorite pieces from the collection are three glass bowls by Dale Chihuly (below) and a mixed-media piece by Antonio Arellanes.  But I discovered from her that the collection is not simply a group of objects;  it’s also a way of enriching lives.


For more information about SAS’s art collection, visit the employee culture section of their website


images: sas.com and caryvisualart 

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