Lehigh University Art Galleries opened the Thinking Through Drawings exhibit in August. The collection includes drawings from the Collection and Community exhibition.(Zhuocheng Wang/B&W Staff)

LUAG’s Thinking Through Drawing exhibit highlights the importance of drawing

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When walking into an art gallery, often what meets the eye are elaborate, prolific pieces sometimes made by famous artists, which may put expectations and pressure on what qualifies as art. 

As summarized on their website, Lehigh University Art Galleries opened the Thinking Through Drawings exhibit to remind people of the value of the simplest art form: drawing. 

The exhibit debuted on Aug. 31 in the main gallery of the Zoellner Arts Center, featuring a variety of works from Lehigh’s collection, alumni or artist donation, purchases and loans. Some of the artwork was made by local artists from the Bethlehem area. 

Leslie J. Fletcher’s work ‘Blue Curve and Straight Blue Lines’ in Thinking Through Drawing: Works on Paper, Drawings, and Sketchbooks from the Collection and Community exhibition. Zoellner, Lehigh University, on Wednesday. October 20th, 2021 (Zhuocheng Wang B&W staff)

These pieces were displayed on monitors in the gallery. Additionally, an offshoot of the exhibit has been created on the South Bethlehem Greenway, pairing local artist’s work with pieces found in the gallery. 

Mark Wonsidler, curator of exhibitions and collections at LUAG, said the exhibit aims to get viewers thinking about the process of making art, which is often overlooked when all that can be seen in galleries is the final product. 

“Drawing is an activity that everyone is engaged in all the time whether they think about it or not,” Wonsidler said. 

Wonsidler said art takes a myriad of forms and can be as simple as doodling in the margin of a notebook or drawing a picture to give someone directions. 

According to Wonsidler, Thinking Through Drawing is meant to remind people that art isn’t about its level of impressiveness, but rather an extension of a person’s thoughts, enabling the creator to explore things they might have never thought of or deemed unimportant.

The pieces in the exhibit range from intricate sketches to stick figures, fully colored to black and white and realism to abstract.

“We wanted to set the works in juxtaposition with each other so that they would open up to the viewer and show the range of possibilities,” Wonsidler said.

There is a piece created by Andy Warhol that sits in the back left corner of the exhibit. It depicts a simple outline of his name in graphite, showing that even influential big-name artists doodle. 

Andy Warhol’s work ‘Fashion, c.’ in Thinking Through Drawing: Works on Paper, Drawings, and Sketchbooks from the Collection and Community exhibition. Zoellner, Lehigh University, on Wednesday. October 20th, 2021 (Zhuocheng Wang B&W staff)

Adrian Suarez, ‘22, a member of the LUAG student advisory committee, said undermining the value of drawing and sketching is detrimental to one’s artistic possibilities. 

“Scribbling, that thing you thought you just did when you were bored, is actually a part of the artistic process,” Suarez said.

Grace Vigorito, ‘22, another member of the LUAG student advisory committee, said the committee wants to emphasize the idea that art is a personal experience where the only person who needs to gain from the creation process is the artist, but at the same time, that art has the power to resonate with many. 

“When you bring it down to a sketch, everyone has the ability to draw a stick figure,” Vigorito said.

Wonsidler said he hopes when visitors enter the gallery they feel the expectations and pressures surrounding art are removed, and instead, visitors are able to value the beautiful process of creation for what it is. He said he hopes it encourages viewers to define art however they wish.

A great of works in Thinking Through Drawing: Works on Paper, Drawings, and Sketchbooks from the Collection and Community exhibition. Zoellner, Lehigh University, on Wednesday. October 20th, 2021 (Zhuocheng Wang B&W staff)

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