Photo taken by Summer Griffin of the entrance of the Women in Art’s Exhibition, Harlan Gallery
Written by: Summer Griffin
Harlan Gallery’s annual “Regional Women’s Arts” exhibition creatively explores the dichotomy of being a woman in the art scene. The showcase celebrates diverse perspectives, techniques, and mediums, along with talented female artists, to share their visions with the community. The exhibition highlights explicitly the talent of these artists, aiming to foster a deeper appreciation for women’s contributions to the art scene.
Seton Hill University’s “Regional Women Artists” exhibition stands out due to its alignment with the AR 385 Women in Art Seminar course. Undergraduate students collectively jury the exhibition in this unique model while studying female artists. This innovative approach empowers students by allowing them to transfer academic theory into practical experience.
The course provides theoretical insights into women artists’ contributions and immerses students in the exhibition process. From jurying artworks to organizing prizes and inviting speakers for the Lunch and Learn sessions, students actively engage in every aspect of the exhibition.
The First prize winner of the exhibition, Stephanie Opheinger, won $400 with her work titled “Beauty Fetish,” a mixed media piece utilizing fiber, foam, and fabric. Maureen Vissat-Knochanek, the Women in Art seminar professor, recounts, “We had over 260 works to select from, so this was an involved process!”.
On its opening date, over 150 guests attended the exhibition. These guests witnessed traditional paintings and sculptures, contemporary digital art, and mixed-media installations. This inclusivity allows the audience to witness female artists’ versatility and ability to push boundaries within their chosen mediums.
In a reflection on the Women in Art exhibition at Seton Hill University’s Harlan Gallery, a senior student, Emma Rodgers, expressed profound gratitude for the practical application of their learning, describing it as “supremely helpful in their educational career.” Rodgers emphasized the enjoyment of the project, highlighting how it brought the class together collaboratively.
As a senior constantly seeking ways to gain practical experience before entering the workforce, the student identified the exhibition as a valuable addition to their resume. The project’s hands-on experience enriched their educational journey and served as a tangible representation of their skills and creativity. Another student, Emily O’Shea, expressed, “The Lunch & Learn after the show opening was also a great networking experience for me. It was cool to hear from women who are actually doing what we’re learning about, and I made some connections that will be great to have as I search for a job post-graduation.”
At Seton Hill, being a student of the arts means more than just studying the contributions of women artists; it involves actively shaping and curating the narrative through hands-on involvement in the exhibition process. It is about collectively jurying artworks, awarding prizes, inviting speakers, and engaging with the community meaningfully. This approach propels students beyond theoretical understanding, allowing them to become architects of their education and contributors to the professional art world.
To be a woman in art is to be part of a community that values and cultivates the intersection of theory and practice. It’s a celebration of diversity, creativity, and the potential to make a lasting impact on both the academic and professional realms.
One way you can celebrate and support this exhibition – and the future ones that will be held? – As expressed via email by Dr. Kochanek, “PLEASE come to these exhibitions and support live artists in our community!”.