When Rita Jones, director of Lehigh’s Women’s Center, began thinking about creative ways to honor Women’s History Month, Heather Sincavage, adjunct professor in the department of art, architecture and design, stepped up with an idea.
“I’m very passionate about women’s issues and it’s really inherent in my work,” says Sincavage, a resident artist at the Banana Factory in South Bethlehem. “It was great to make the connection with the Women’s Center.”
Sincavage and Jones, with help from Silagh White, director of ArtsLehigh, created a month of events that addressed women’s issues through the lens of art. The events and exhibitions throughout March brought the campus and local community together to celebrate the theme “The Evolving Archetype.”
Using the interior of the ArtsLehigh offices on Packer Avenue, Sincavage created an installation that was an extension of her series “Architect’s Daughter,” which she constructed in 2008.
“My work focuses on how we question and define our ideal example of the feminine and on the overall accomplishment of cognizant self,” Sincavage says. “The work is not to be confused as having answers but is more about the methodology one creates to ask the question and then, further, how the journey of answering the question unfolds.”
Depictions of domestic life
The series also allowed area artists to share their craft. Sincavage curated an exhibit at the Banana Factory titled “Chores,” which featured depictions of “women’s work” by six female artists using the mediums of fibers, painting, printmaking and film. Each work expressed an aspect of domestic life.
In addition, One Stone Collective, a local women’s artist group, presented an experimental exhibit called “Archetypes: These Role(s) We Wear.” Each artist in the collective interpreted the notion of archetypes based on history, perception, creation and personal experiences and created a piece that appeared in the window of a retailer on Bethlehem’s Third Street. Artists explored themes such as matriarch, working woman and crazy cat lady.
While the exhibits remained in storefronts through March, community members took part in a walking tour of the exhibits on March 19, where the artists offered background and narrative on their respective works.
“The collaborative nature of this brought people to campus and brought campus to the South Side,” says Jones. “We were able to merge the residential community, the business community and the campus community.”
A lecture by photographer Lydia Panas on “Family Pictures/Untold Stories” took place March 25, and a gallery talk by Sincavage capped off the month-long celebration.
Jones says the events coincided with Healthy Body Week at the Women’s Center, which observed beauty through the ages. The events collectively gave women an opportunity to see the way in which women are constructed from the outside – influenced by factors such as media and family.
Photo by Jessica Bandy