Discussions and guided tours in the gallery encourage appreciation of art
Lehigh University Art Galleries hosted a reception and gallery tour with Ricardo Viera, gallery director and curator, and Nicholas Sawicki, associate professor of art history, to promote education artistic and collaboration in the main gallery of the Zoellner Arts Center on Thursday.
Viera and Sawicki said the collection, Object as Subject, was put together for use by different groups. The goal is for people to use the gallery to the best of their ability.
“Basically we are an educational collection,” Viera said. “Every work that is here is used by students, by teachers, by anyone who wishes to use the collection. It is collected for use by classes and by different groups.
There are around 13,000 pieces housed in the art galleries of Lehigh University, although only around 1% are on display.
“The aim is to celebrate the collection and to present the most excellent works in the collection and have them displayed,” said Mark Wonsidler, Exhibitions and Collections Coordinator.
Viera and Sawicki analyzed the work “Silvered Heights” by Arthur B. Davies, which is on display at the Rauch Business Center. The piece consists of nude female figures arranged in a large horizontal panel.
Viera said the way the room is painted – the way it’s almost Impressionist in style – is what makes it modern. He said the painting is reminiscent of early Renaissance work.
Sawicki and Viera also focused on a piece by Henri Mattisse called “Odalisque”. Viera pointed out that when an observer gets closer to the painting, it appears more complex and fluid. He adds that the painting captivates the body, which is fluid in motion.
Wonsidler said the gallery allows students and faculty members to stop, reflect and share ideas.
“Art objects are ideas that are embodied by artists,” he said. “It is interesting to see the difference between the Han Dynasty vase and the symbolic painting by (Odilon) Redon. The two eras, meanings, completely different values in its culture. It helps us to think outside of our own specific experiences and to imagine ourselves through the eyes of different cultures or different people who bring us together as a human race.
The main gallery changes every semester while the lower gallery changes every two years. However, this year, however, to celebrate Lehigh’s 150th birthday, the main gallery does not change for the entire year.
Denise Stangl, museum operations manager, said the gallery is changing to showcase a variety of works.
“We want to show new things, engage our audience and get you thinking,” Stangl said.
Wonsidler said every show should be different from the ones that came before it.
“Art is constantly filled with change, just like life is filled with change,” he said. “He always reinvents himself. “
Throughout the event, each staff member stressed the importance of integrating art into education.
“When you bring the liberal arts into an educational atmosphere, it surrounds the person well,” Stangl said. “It gives them a shift to not only focus on an academic stem, but to actually engage the student, which gives them a different perspective.”
Sawicki said that a guided tour makes visiting a gallery to be a more engaging experience, as it gives people a chance to reflect and talk about art.
Wonsidler said it was a pleasure to walk around the gallery and reflect.
“We are all moving so fast,” he said. “It’s nice to take a moment and take a break.”