Never Ghana Forget: Photo / Video documentary by Rachel Ledbetter

November 5 – 30, 2018
Service Project: Shai Hills, Ghana, Africa
Rachel Ledbetter, ’19

Rachel Ledbetter (IHS major and Art minor) volunteered at City of Refuge Ministries (CORM), a non-profit organization based in Ghana in May 2018.  The team at CORM is passionate about rescuing children from slavery and providing them with a safe and fulfilling childhood. Ledbetter’s research focuses on the injustices perpetrated on individuals in Africa. Through photography and video, this exhibit documents the people from CORM and their stories.

Read Rachel’s blog about her experience:
http://neverghanaforgetthis.blogspot.com/

History

Lake Volta is a man-made lake in Ghana built in the 1960s to create business opportunities for fishermen. This lake has an abundance of expensive fish to sell and profit from.  Fishermen buy children from vulnerable mothers, promising care and education.  In reality, the children are not educated, barely fed and forced into dangerous child labor.  Many children grow up to be slave masters themselves.

Intervention

In 2000, The Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed officially prohibiting all forced labor, involuntary servitude, and sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion.  As a result, rescuing children from Lake Volta became a legal process, but unfortunately human trafficking still continues today.  Many fishermen do not realize that what they are doing is illegal.  The government will carry out raids on the lake and rescue hundreds of children at a time. CORM partners with community leaders and International Justice Mission to rescue enslaved children.

Prevention

The key to end human trafficking in the Lake Volta region is to begin with the mothers. The women often lack the necessary skills and income to adequately provide for multiple children forcing them to sell their children in the hopes that they will have a better life.  CORM fosters women; teaching them sewing, literacy, cooking, and basic skills all while their children are attending school. After a few years, the women will graduate from this sponsorship program with proper skills, a sewing machine, a small stipend, and thus a business to sustain themselves and their children.

Restoration

CORM fosters, feeds, and provides Christian based education for children rescued from slavery. There are approximately 70 children currently living in Children’s Village.  Many of them will begin their education at age 13 since they spent their early childhood working on the lake.  This year CORM will have their fourth graduating class.  Many of these students will continue studying at the university level.

If you would like to volunteer, or donate to sponsor a child, please visit CORM’s website at: https://www.cityofrefugeoutreach.org

 

“Art for Women Empowerment” curated by Samantha O’Connell ’20

Art for Women Empowerment

Curated by Samantha O’Connell ‘20
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant and Summer Scholars Recipient

Art for Women Empowerment has a mission to support women in the art world, their art, and the subjects they paint. The all-female artists’ show will support women artists and will help bring attention to the lack of female representation in museums and galleries.

Through the many major feminist movements throughout our country including “Me Too” and “Time’s Up,” it is important to continue the fight towards equality for women. Art plays a major role in society, and I believe it is important to use art’s influence to promote the fight for feminism both inside and outside of the art world. The fight for equal rights for all women includes equal standards for women and men within the workplace and a world where women are viewed as equal to men, socially, politically and economically, and view women as more than sexual objects, but capable and powerful.

By bringing attention to the injustices and inequalities women face, the world will begin to recognize the problems and work towards change. Visual art appeals to people, which is why we go to museums; however, behind the art’s face value there is meaning, and when we take that meaning and apply it to what we see, our perspectives can be influenced, which makes art a more impactful means of promoting change. In terms of feminist art, the intentions behind the works in this exhibition, are to put emphasis on women empowerment and the inequalities women face within the art world but generally in the outside world as well. Feminist art allows viewers to reflect on its message and relate that message to the viewers’ own lives by sparking questions such as: Do I face inequality because of my gender? Do I contribute to gender inequality?

Abby Lustig

Abby Lustig is a painter from Pennsylvania. Ever since she started volunteering for a non-profit financial rehabilitation center called Homefront, her art has taken a focus toward empowerment. Abby volunteers for the art program Homefront offers, and many of the people who use the program are women. After interviewing each woman who comes in, Abby paints her portrait. “The questions I ask are about what the artist loves about herself, how she uses art to empower herself, and what aspect of the world she would like to change.” Abby uses oil paint for each painting and depending on the portrait, the creation of each one can take from 4 to 10 hours. Abby finds that each portrait turns out better when she doesn’t analyze every stroke, rather paints what she sees.

After having volunteered at Homefront for over a year now, Abby describes the people she’s worked with as “some of the most self-motivated and intelligent knowledge-seekers I have ever met. Just the other day, I had a conversation with a woman whose favorite things to talk about are quantum theory and color theory. Each visit, I          grow closer to these artists and learn more about their character, not their “story.” Another woman who I am also going to paint, has daughters who have degrees in criminal justice and psychology and are extremely successful… I realized how selfless this woman is. She gave everything to her children so that they could have a better future, and she is now pursuing her education.”

Abby feels that her goal as an artist is to “remove the stigma that many people associate homelessness with and replace it with an understanding of their character and actual art.” Abby wants artists to be empowered and she wants to further her knowledge of “what great and inspiring people they are… “I intend to make the artists gain confidence, and in her mission to boost confidence and empowerment through art, Abby has built upon her interview questions in addition to asking about what the artist loves about herself. She asks questions regarding the artists’ emotions and feelings they get when they create their own work.

 

Alexis Trionfo

Alexis Trionfo is currently a student at Elizabethtown College with a minor in studio art. Although her traditional media was painting with oils and pastels, she found a new love for digital photography after taking a class her senior year of high school. Alexis feels that she can truly capture moments with her photography. She particularly enjoys photographing in black and white; by doing so, Alexis feels like she captures the person’s soul rather than their clothes or their particular surroundings.

Alexis’s artistic process goes beyond the technical bits of photography. She feels the closest she comes to capturing a person’s soul is when they’re smiling. As she describes, “It feels like their truest, purest forms. I like to just talk with the people that I’m photographing as normal, hoping to catch them off guard, more vulnerable and real.” It is very clear that Alexis portrays the souls of each individual she photographs whether in color or black and white.

Additionally, Alexis’s work empowers women. She feels that women, although they should be treated equally in a political and economical standpoint, women empowerment goes beyond this, because women deserve to be “viewed equally, spoken to equally, judged equally, etc.” By capturing the souls of those she photographs, Alexis unveils the way should be viewed in a society as “strong, beautiful, intelligent, creative, and independent.” She states, “Women do not need to be validated by a man before they contribute, they have earned the right to be heard and seen without justification. Empowerment has to come from that belief, and it starts with us being given a fair chance to do so.”

Courtney Agnello

CJ Agnello is a 20 year old visual and literary artist currently living in Brooklyn. She is presently pursuing her BFA at the School of Visual Arts, NYC set to graduate in 2020. Over the last two years of working towards her degree she has experimented with many different styles. While her work’s message does not come across as immediately feminist, the way she is boldly making her mark in fields that are dominated by men however is. Film, literature and painting are all artistic pursuits that she pursues and these mediums still today in 2018 are chiefly populated by men. Her work speaks for, and stands for itself when it comes to its power, feeling the presence of the women she paints and the vitality they lack or embrace. Agnello’s paintings, in this exhibition, feature paintings emphasizing the beauty of women from all different ethnicities and backgrounds, including her own self portrait. Not only does Agnello want her work to be known, but her face and named to be attached to it.

Along with portraits, Agnello’s work also includes an experimentation with body form. The colors and strokes imitate the wide range of bodily forms. By bringing them all together, she accentuates the beauty of all bodily forms. On the other hand, Agnello’s wood canvas of three figures, the question arises, who are these men? Women? This ambiguity is to emphasize the beauty of the inner person rather than their physicalities, by utilizing bright and bold palettes. When one observes these various and powerful forms, one comes to know her passion and talent for the art world.

“Floating Blue” photographs by Thomas Pickarski

June 12 – August 2, 2019

Floating Blue
Having spent the last 10 summers traveling through arctic regions, Pickarski discovered a deep love for the eternal beauty of icebergs. He finds them to appear sculpturally magnificent, as if crafted in a way that seems too perfect for this world. In this series of photographs, he aims to portray both the ethereal beauty of icebergs, as well as the otherworldliness of the landscapes in which they exist.

“Shelter” photographic installation by Andy Mattern

February 18 – March 21, 2019

Shelter is a project visualizing time spent underground in Oklahoma storm cellars. These cool, dim spaces are both havens and tombs.  Mattern uses the cellar as a life -size camera with the air vent as the lens.  The result is an abstract arrangement of celestial circular forms mimicking these cellars that punctuate the landscape of the mid-west.

Andy Mattern is represented by Elizabeth Houston Gallery, New York

“Variations on a Theme” sculpture and cyanotypes by Heather Beardsley

December 17, 2018 through February 7, 2019

Artist Talk/Reception: Thursday, Jan 17, 11:30am – 12:30pm

Variations on a Theme draws inspiration from Ernst Haeckel and Anna Atkins, image-makers that blurred the lines between art and science.  By imitating the style of high-tech visualizations like spectrographs and 3D printing through low-tech craft media like modeling clay and cyanotype, this work calls into question of authenticity and legitimacy in scientific representation.

“Sophisticated Chaos” watercolors by Ken Karlic

November 5 – December 7, 2018
Artist Talk:  November 15, 11:30am – 12:30pm

SOPHISTICATED CHAOS

Inspired by scenes of complex forms, this exhibition of watercolor paintings uses structures as a vehicle to explore the physicality of material, technique and subject. Pushing the boundaries of watercolor, these works merge art, design and architecture which dissolve into varying levels of abstraction. The painting approach is as much a part of the work as the subject—with marks, drips and splatters all becoming part of the final piece. The results are images that are bold yet beautiful, muscular yet elegant, suggestive and evocative.

Originally from Chicago, Ken Karlic studied architecture, painting and graphic design at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and received a BFA. He is a founding partner of the Baltimore-based graphic design firm Splice Design and teaches painting workshops nationally. Ken lives and works in Bel Air, Maryland.

Ken regularly exhibits throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and participates in national juried plein air competitions including Plein Air Easton, Door County Plein Air and Cape Ann Plein Air. He has recently been featured in The Art of Watercolour, PleinAir Magazine, Fine Art Today and Voyage Chicago. In addition, Ken wrote, “Sophisticated Chaos with DANIEL SMITH Watercolors, Step by Step Painting Large Scale” for Daniel Smith Art Materials, which was distributed to their global community of professional artists, retailers and distributors.

“Spirit of the Day” sumi ink paintings by Nishiki Sugawara-Beda

October 1 – 27, 2018
Artist Talk/Reception: Thursday, October 11, 11:30am-12:30pm

Spirit of the Day

 Spirit of the Day offers viewers an essential yet often forgotten engagement—a deeper connection with their own spirit in the contemporary busy society. The paintings present a moment of this spiritual engagement through mindfully cultivated marks on the surface. Sumi-ink brings out subtle and nuanced shifts in values and highlights a myriad of layers so that viewers may lost in them and find the core of humanity.

“Z” ambrotypes by Rowan Renee

August 20 – September 20, 2018
Artist Talk: September 20, 11:30am – 12:30pm
ALL ARE WELCOME!

Z is a collection of nude ambrotype portraits working with transgender, cisgender, and a spectrum of genderqueer and gender non-conforming individuals. Through Z, I aim to deconstruct conventions of the nude body towards more diverse representations. The title of the collection refers to a proposed gender neutral pronoun.

Each image records a collaborative dialogue between model and photographer that develops over the course of a shoot. These conversations consider the power dynamics of the photographic gaze, the ambiguities of gender performance and embodiment, and the complex intersection of vulnerability and empowerment that arise when one’s body is read as “queer”. Through these portraits I cultivate a connection between subject and viewer that transcends the normative categories of “man” and “woman”, leaving space for the nuances of personhood that remain when these categories dissolve.

I use the 19th century Wet-Plate Collodion process with contemporary subjects as a revision to historic representations of gender non-conforming people. Gender variance has always existed, but Victorian photographers routinely medicalized and pathologized their images, perpetuating a visual violence that fragments, dehumanizes and fetishizes queer bodies. The images in Z are conceived as reparative acts,  superimposing new imagery into the gaps left by history.

The timeliness of transgender visibility in mainstream media makes Z an urgent body of work to reach a wider audience. Recent federal legislation limiting transgender Military service, and discriminatory bathroom bills passed in several cities and states, have highlighted the need for further social and legislative change to achieve full inclusion and equality. Towards this goal I channel a photographic process that creates intimacy; a powerful tool to advance a worldview that is open, malleable and accepting of diversity.

ARTIST INFO:

Name: Rowan Renee

Preferred Pronouns: They/Them

Website: http://rowanrenee.com

Instagram: @brooklyntintype

Artist Bio: Rowan Renee is a genderqueer artist whose work explores themes of gender and power. Renee has received awards from The Aaron Siskind Foundation, The Rema Hort Mann Foundation and The Anchorage Museum of Art. Previous solo exhibitions include “Z” at Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation (2015) and “Bodies of Wood” (2017) at The Aperture Foundation. They have received fellowships from The Jerome Foundation, the McColl Center for Visual Art and the Ossian Arts Fellowship at the Jain Family Institute. They have been profiled on NPR, in The New York Times, VICE, Hyperallergic, Huffington Post, American Photo Magazine and Guernica, among many other publications. They are currently living between Brooklyn, New York and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

 

“Easton Nights” photography by Peter Ydeen

August 20 – September 25, 2018

Artist Talk/Reception: September 25, 11:30am – 12:30pm
ALL ARE WELCOME

This piece, “I Want a Yellow House with a White Picket Fence” reflects on the American dream. This environment creates a type of mystical realism, similar to the environment pictured in the pieces by Charles Burchfield. Burchfield painted many townscapes, and nature scenes inspiring Ydeen. Within Ydeen’s pieces, there are not many people pictured, and he tries to focus on lighting and architectural design. So many people desire a home with a white picket fence, this abandoned looking town shows a broken idea. The light coming from the bedroom window is the only sign of life emitted from the piece. The nighttime scene isolates a specific vignette, and creates something that you could not get from daytime photography.

Peter Ydeen moved to Easton based on recommendations from a client. Although this is a medium sized city, Easton is between the major cities of New York City and Philadelphia. When he arrived into the city, Ydeen believed that the city had a sort of dislike towards humankind and avoided society in general. It seemed to be almost lost in time, and only related with the people nearby. After living in the town for a while, he realized that was not the truth. Rather, he believes that the town has a strong influence of Americana. These influences play through in many aspects of the town. From local businesses displaying American flags in their windows to the rebirth and repurpose of old town buildings. Although the commonality of Americana today is dwindling, it has become an important part of Ydeen’s work. Through his photographed materials, he created place that makes you feel you have visited this classic small town on the outskirts of two large cities. Ydeen accomplishes this by paying close attention to the lighting, and architectural layouts of Easton. The idea of taking the photos at night shows to be important in isolating the personal private spaces, and showing the importance of spatial lighting.

~ Gabriella Youshock, Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

“Hair Pieces” photography by Rebecca Drolen

 

Rebecca’s Artist Talk 3/1/18

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“Shearing” 30 x 30″

In her explorative Hair Pieces, photographer Rebecca Drolen calls us to consider the place of beauty, of standards, of hair within the context of our society. Through self-portraiture Drolen captures a dynamic collection of images that focus on the roles we place on hair. Her approach is both surreal and tongue-in-cheek. “The imagery and symbolism of hair as strength (mythologically) or beauty and sexuality in contemporary culture, seemed to be such a fruitful territory to spend time making within,” Drolen explains.

Hair Pieces considers the juxtaposition of body hair, the desirable and the disgraceful. In a much broader sense it offers a social critique of identity and self-image in a contemporary context.

One of the collection’s photographs, “Longer Lashes,” Drolen crosses humor with horror; her jarring, hyperbolic response to the question of when unrealistic feminine standards turn sour.  “The theme that I am most interested in is that we have so many double standards for hair,” says Drolen. “We cultivate and embrace hair in some areas of our bodies (indeed we sometimes feel like we cannot have enough), while we compulsively remove and hide that we have hair on other parts of our bodies.  We enter cycles of growth and removal that seem to be a shared exercise in frustration and futility – it keeps growing back.”

Hair Pieces probes the questions of that tension from a fresh and unyielding perspective. A comprehensive meditation, the collection is Drolen’s first major work in her post-graduate career.

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“Toe Hair” mixed media 1.5″ x 1.5″

The collection Hair Pieces in on view in conjunction with the Society for Photographic Education (SPE) National conference, held in Philadelphia this year, March 1-4. The SPE is a nonprofit organization that aims to promote a larger, more comprehensive understanding of the medium public programs and service.

~ Nick Crouse ‘19
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant

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“Haircut” 30 x 90″