Gift Will Help Build Ethnic Art Collection at Gregg

June 21, 2009
By Chris Richter

Retired animal science professor Jim Lecce studied porcine husbandry but has been working as an artist for almost 20 years, sculpting in wood and stone. He and his wife, Eileen, have willed their estate — valued at more than $1 million — to the university. It will be the largest arts gift in NC State history. From an N&O profile of Lecce:

He recently went into his garage and pulled out a two-foot-high carving he’d done years ago. It had been gathering cobwebs since Farrow shipped it back to Lecce 10 years ago.

It’s autobiographical. A man’s face, a woman’s body reaching away from the man, a baby’s face below them, and a pig’s face and snout pulling the man from behind. The piece represents him, his wife, the children they never had and Lecce’s mistress of an academic career.

The sculpture sits on Lecce’s sun porch. He scowls a little, admitting he never liked it himself. He says the piece is mocking him.

So what’s it called?

“I hate you,” Lecce says with another wink.

Feeling better than he has in a long time, Lecce laughs easily, especially at himself. His family legacy has a name and a home at N.C. State.

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