Lucy Gans with her In Our Own Words installation at Zoellner last year.
A powerful sculpture installation that put a literal face on domestic violence is now drawing honors for its accomplished artist. Lucy Gans, professor of art and architecture, will receive the Special Award Recognizing the Use of the Power of the Arts for Extraordinary Social Impact from the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission
on Friday, May 9.
The award will honor her creation of the In Our Own Words installation
, which was on exhibit in the Zoellner Multimedia Gallery last year.
Gans, who teaches sculpture, drawing and women’s studies, created an exhibit that explored domestic violence through 442 hand-sculpted faces that lined the gallery walls. Each face represented a victim of domestic abuse and conveyed a sense of the emotional and physical pain that haunts its victims.
“The installation was an immense labor of love, fraught with difficult subject matter and personal anguish,” Gans says. “One in four women will be the victim of intimate partner violence in their lifetime. This is just one small step that I as an artist can do to bring these issues to public awareness.”
Many of the faces were also wired to project the victims’ voices, which Gans recorded during interviews with women at Turning Point of the Lehigh Valley, a local organization that provides a safe harbor and resources for women and children affected by domestic violence.
The Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission brings quality art events to the Lehigh Valley, and each year recognizes the contributions of local artists at its Tribute to the Arts Luncheon.
“We applaud your efforts to bring public attention to the impact of domestic violence on women, their families and our community, as well as attention and support for community efforts to address this problem,” the Commission said in selecting Gans for the award.
“As a figurative sculptor, it has always been important for me to create work that has a broader context, so I make work about issues that are particularly poignant to me,” Gans says. She says she is pleased not only by the recognition, but also to see the commission create an award that recognizes the social impact of art.
“The idea of raising funds through the donation of my work to Turning Point seemed like a natural way that I could not just draw attention to an issue, but could help others to support it as well,” Gans says.