A portrait of Dame Judi Dench sits in a hall of the Rauch Business Center. Sitting alongside her are portraits of several other women, decorating the space with a commemoration of 50 years of women at Lehigh.
The photograph is from Joyce Tenneson’s book “Wise Women: A Celebration of Their Insights, Courage, and Beauty.” Its pages are lined with stories and wisdom of older women.
The work of Tenneson and nine other women photographers are part of the exhibition series Hear Me Roar: Women Photographers, presented by the Lehigh University Art Galleries (LUAG).
The exhibition marks one of many ways the 50th year of co-education at Lehigh is being celebrated. On display from August until May 27, the collections, which are split into four parts, can be found in the Dubois Gallery in Maginnes Hall, The Gallery at Rauch Business Center, the Siegel Gallery at Iacocca Hall and the Fairchild Martindale Study Gallery.
Sarah Smith, ‘22, said when sitting on the first floor of Rauch Business Center opposite the works of Tenneson and Jeanine Michna-Bales, she hadn’t realized it was the 50th anniversary of women on campus.
She didn’t know that the pictures she casually glanced at each day while walking down the first-floor hall were a celebration of that, of her.
“It makes me want to take another look at those photos again and actually read the plaques,” she said.
Sara Woodfield, ‘25, similarly reflected on the photos she observed from Sandra Eleta’s Portobello series, located in Fairchild-Martindale Library.
“It feels normal,” Woodfield said. “All my life, I’ve known of women going to college.”
Smith said she hadn’t thought about the depth of what it means to be a woman at Lehigh, let alone a woman in business and engineering at Lehigh. She is among 10 women out of 50 total students in her class pursuing a degree in Lehigh’s Integrated Business and Engineering program.
The Portobello series, observed by Woodfield, captures the Afro-Latin community in the Panamanian city of Portobello. Her work is a celebration of love and connection — a small nod to Woodfield’s own Afro-Latin heritage.
Lena Weisman’s, ’22, name can be found co-credited at the bottom of all the photographer’s description labels.
Weisman had been a part of the LUAG for about two years before securing an internship with them this past summer. As an education intern, one of her projects was to pen all the labels for the Hear Me Roar exhibition.
Weisman said she loved learning about each photographer and their unique work. She also found pride in seeing her contributions hanging all over campus, accessible to students, faculty and visitors.
Having been aware of Lehigh’s Soaring Together initiative, Weisman felt that the exhibition was a meaningful way that the LUAG could participate in the celebration.
“To be a woman, to be able to use the knowledge that I’ve learned through my classes and be able to apply that to labels for other people to learn from, and to learn from these photographers’ work — it’s just a really good feeling,” Weisman said.
Particularly striking to Weisman was Tennoson’s series, which she said she found fascinating as she said Tenneson captured the natural beauty of women at older ages.
All 78 photographs in the exhibition series can also be viewed virtually through the Artstor Digital Library.