Reflections with Nan

by Nan Sanders


My answer is simple: I do it because I can. I am blessed on many levels.

One of the great blessings of my life was having Pam Mathews and David Potter come to Cleveland. Immediately Pam and my common interests in art made our friendship easy and over time a friendship of a lifetime.

Within a month of her arrival, she mentioned her idea of having a biennial sculpture competition and placing the winning pieces in the front lawn of the Bologna Performing Art Center at Delta State. Immediately she set up a committee. It was a brilliant concept and one we have used for ten years.

Ironically, one of the great tragedies of my life was that Pam didn’t live to see the formal garden built. After she lost her battle to cancer in 2004, the existing Sculpture Garden was designed and built with the help of another great blessing in my life, my mother-in-law, Hazel Sanders. Her generosity made this dream a reality.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my husband Mike whose support is essential and whose admiration for Pam equaled mine.

It is a labor of love honoring friendships. Seeing this project to completion and being involved in its development is our tribute to Pam Mathews and a testimony to our strong beliefs that art elevates one’s consciousness and inspires the soul.



There are many winners with a project like this. It distinguishes Delta State University, especially in the arts and the Cleveland community. It is unique.

To my knowledge, there isn’t another place in Mississippi that rivals this display of and commitment to public art. It gives us something unique. Hopefully, it elevates the quality of life in this area.

Pam and I believed that living with art enhances life’s experiences even if one is not aware of it. Hopefully, this project will serve as a catalyst for the new movement called the Creative Economy.

The Mississippi Delta is culturally rich historically and any endeavors that promote the arts will continue that precedence. I would love to see the MS Delta become an artistic Mecca— a place where artists and patrons can join to make all of the arts a way to experience life on a higher level. If you look at cultures historically, those that have valued art have prospered. Fundamentally, throughout the ages, art inspires and illuminates the good and meaningful experiences of life.



My hope is that the Sculpture Garden will be an instrument of learning, inspiration and reflection for many years.

In the next twenty years there will be at least twenty new pieces of Sculpture in our permanent collection, so the campus of DSU will become a very special destination for learning and enjoying this medium called Sculpture.

I believe we are only limited by our lack of imagination, and since our imagination looms large, I’m excited about its potential.

I’m not naïve, however, and I know that it is futile to predict long term. Nothing is insulated from bad things. Even the highest, loftiest goals can be denigrated by arrogance and conceit.

I do believe that good things in the hands of reasonable people will succeed. I consider it my responsibility to leave this project in a position for success and hope that it is managed in a way that give it the best chance to realize its enormous potential.

Please come see the Garden where you will see our Fifth Biennial Competition and Winning Pieces, and take a walk around the campus to see the other thirteen pieces in our permanent collection.

Please contact us on Facebook if you have comments or suggestions. Check out our QR technology with your smart phones and let the art “inspire your soul.”