Published on July 8, 2024 by Anne Madison Adcock  
man looking at art exhibit

On Friday, June 14 at 4 p.m., the Samford Art Gallery witnessed a remarkable event. Alan Jung, dean of Samford University's School of Health Professions, stood in awe alongside his parents as they viewed an extensive collection of paintings of his paternal grandfather, Dr. Herbert Jung, on display for the first time. This exhibition not only honored the legacy of a talented artist but also marked an emotional journey through family history.

Jung, who lived from 1908 to 1996, was a man whose passion for painting served as a reflective outlet during the turbulent times of World War II. His artwork vividly captured the emotions and experiences of that era, echoing the landscapes and scenarios he encountered. Alan Jung reminisced about his childhood memories, recalling the frequent visits to his grandfather's home where new paintings adorned the walls. After Dr. Herbert Jung's passing in 1996, the paintings were inherited by Alan's father, who treasured them deeply. Due to the sheer volume of the paintings, many remained in storage.

Dr Herbert Jung wit his parents

Alan had a desire to honor his grandfather’s legacy by presenting his work in a way that had never been done before. After connecting with Samford’s School of the Arts dean, Lance Beaumont, and associate dean, Larry Thompson, he learned that the Samford Art Gallery was available on Father’s Day weekend, which added another layer of emotional connection to the exhibition’s significance. He quickly gathered the collection of paintings that week and secretly put them on display to surprise his father that Friday.

As Alan and his family set up the gallery, the process evoked powerful emotions, especially as his own children participated in the preparations.

dr jungs family

The Jung children (left to right): Harper, Langley, Owen, and Camden.

“I always viewed them as individual paintings without appreciating the total body of work and what that revealed about my grandfather,” said Alan. “Perhaps it was similar to seeing the value of individual trees without seeing the beauty of the forest. Seeing them all together was awe-inspiring, and it allowed me to see my grandfather’s magical forest.”

When Alan walked his father up to the art gallery, the flyer displayed on the front door left his father speechless. It was a picture of Dr. Herbert Jung with a German phrase underneath, translated in English to “family is everything.”

art galleria exhibit for dr jung

After walking through the gallery, Alan’s father turned to him and said, “I feel closer to my dad standing here looking at all of his paintings. I also feel closer to you. Seeing these paintings all together helps me understand my dad more.”

“Not only was this a special moment for my dad, as he drew nearer to his own father, it was an opportunity for me to share a part of my family history with my own children,” said Alan. “This was intended to be a gift for my dad, but little did I know what a gift it would be for the entire family.”

art at dr jung's exhibit

The exhibition allowed the family to see Dr. Jung's work in a new light, providing a deeper understanding of his life and experiences.The paintings, grouped into categories such as landscapes and portraits, showcased different phases of his life, including his time in practicing medicine in Africa, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

“One of my good friends said it best: there’s just something so validating about honoring an artist’s body of work in a space like that,” said April Jung, Dean Alan Jung’s wife. “Even we were taken aback by these paintings that for the most part, had only been seen in a dark basement, to see them when they were displayed under the light. It was almost sacred.”

The Jungs invited friends and relatives to view the collection throughout the weekend, each visit revealing new insights and emotions. The diverse themes in the paintings, from nautical scenes inspired by his father's career as a naval architect to introspective works, offered a multifaceted view of Dr. Herbert Jung's world and psyche.

dr herbert jung flyer

The unveiling of Dr. Herbert Jung's art collection was a profound and moving experience for the Jung family. It provided an opportunity to honor a prolific painter and to explore the rich tapestry of their family history. The exhibition was a testament to the power of art to connect, inspire and heal across generations. As Alan aptly noted, this event was not just about displaying paintings but about drawing closer to family and understanding the legacy left behind by a remarkable man.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.