Mrs. Clinton said of the exhibit, "The twelve sculptures from the Southeast Region of the United States reflect and celebrate the special genius of American artists and their enduring capacity to stir our imagination and touch our hearts. It is appropriate that this exhibition is on display in the garden conceived of and created by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy believed that art could and should be a part of our lives."
As Chair of the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, Mrs. Clinton and Committee members discussed an exhibition of American 20th-century sculpture in the White House in Januar of 1994. J. Carter Brown, Director Emeritus of the National Gallery of Art, and member of the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, contacted the Association of Art Museum Directors regarding the possibility of loaning pieces of 20th-century American Sculpture to the White House. Under the auspieces of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, twelve pieces of sculpture have been loaned to the White House from Southeastern art institutions.
The curator of the exhibit is Mr. Townsend Wolfe, Director and Chief Curator of the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Committee for the Preservation of the White House hopes to continue the exhibition with pieces of sculpture from public art collections from every region of the country.
In October of 1994 the first exhibit of 20th century sculpture was installed in the First L4ady's Garden. George Neubert, Director of the Sheldon Memorial Gallery and Sculpture Garden at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, selected twelve sculptures from museums in the midwest. This first exhibit illustrated the major developments in American sculpture from the early 20th century to the present.
The second exhibit of 20th century sculpture focuses on American sculpture from 1965 to the present. Eleven of the twelve artists are living and working today. Each work is the individual artist's contribution to the American vision of human life and human understanding. The pieces of sculpture reflect the diversity, vitality and energy of the past, present and future.