Despite the pandemic, Lehigh University Art Galleries has continued to provide artistic and cultural activities for members of the Lehigh and Bethlehem communities.
The galleries seek to offer relevant programs and exhibitions that reach a variety of audiences and position the museum and its art collection as a resource for exploring new ideas, self-discovery and connecting with others.
LUAG reopened to the public on Feb. 9 and have been operating in a hybrid format. They are open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
LUAG has partnered with various community organizations and artists to find creative ways to reach people where they are, in order to offer ways to connect with themselves and others during this challenging time of isolation.
“Well, Well, Well: Picturing Wellness” is one of the exhibitions that demonstrate the many ways in which artists visualize wellness in order to create dialogue with the campus and surrounding community.
Rei Ukon, ‘21, a LUAG Student Advisory Committee member, was involved in creating the exhibition. He said his primary focus was utilizing art as a way to practice mindfulness.
“I really enjoyed this one (Well, Well, Well) because it was more engaging and interactive, and got me thinking how digital media holds lots of opportunities for art spaces to widen their scope for serving their communities,” Ukon said.
Another event, “The Taste of Art,” aims to connect both the local and global community through combining culture and food with works of art from their collection.
“It is an exciting way to build exposure and support for the local South Side community and merchants by celebrating our vibrant and electric community,” said Stacie Brennan, curator of education.
Sara Sanchez Rivera, ‘23, a co-chair for the Community Engagement Committee, one of the subcommittees for the student advisory at LUAG, said “The Taste of Art” program is an example of the good work the committees are doing.
“Restaurant partnerships are suggested in the committee meetings, and I have had the pleasure of participating in the first ‘Taste of Art’ program where the art gallery partnered with Jenny’s Kuali,” Rivera said.
Rivera said she will be participating in the next “Taste of Art” program coming up on March 25.
Alexandria Wismer, Coordinator at LUAG, is responsible for promoting the exhibitions and events, and is part of a team of faculty, students and staff that are involved in the planning and implementation of their exhibitions and programs.
She said she works closely with other members of the Lehigh community from helping to shape and curate the exhibitions to offering insights and discussions into the collection. Student voices on campus provide a variety of interpretations and perspectives through virtual programs, written labels, research papers and audio guides, Wismer said.
One of the programs Wismer is most excited about is the new “Paint Pal Creative Exchange” program. Recently launched in partnership with LU Artists for Change, the program aims to foster connections between Lehigh students both on and off campus through art making and expression.
“We had heard from a few students that it’s been difficult to make connections and friends this year because of COVID-19, and we’re hoping that this program makes that easier for some students,” Wismer said.
Wismer oversees LUAG social media accounts in order to keep “Well, Well, Well: Picturing Wellness,” “The Taste of Art” and all other LUAG exhibitions as visible as possible.
Brennan said studies have shown that participation in artistic and cultural activities strengthens well-being.
“The complementary programming we have offered is to offer practical tips and ideas for how the arts can be a tool for healing and recovery,” Brennan said.