Penn State Abington's annual art exhibition moves online

Abington Bertha Lear

Molly Davis received the Bertha Lear Award for Community Engagement for her participation and co-coordination of multiple public art projects including a collaboration with artist David Buckley Borden and the creation of a community mosaic that can be found in the Sutherland Building lobby. 

Credit: Penn State Abington

ABINGTON, Pa. — Penn State Abington’s much-anticipated annual Bertha Lear Art Exhibition was compelled to move online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This year we couldn’t exhibit our students’ work that was completed during the 2019-20 semesters. However, the art department faculty unanimously agreed that we should still award students for their exemplary work. And rightly so. We have a lot of strong work this year and very special students,” H. John Thompson, assistant teaching professor of art and art gallery director, said.

The show includes a broad range of disciplines and awards students for outstanding merit in their genre. The awards for students submitting pieces for the exhibition encompass a variety of categories, including the Bertha Lear Purchase Award for Best in Show. The winner's artwork becomes a permanent addition to Abington's art collection.

The exhibition is named for Bertha Lear, a talented artist who worked in oils, clay, and marble sculptures. Robert A. Lear, class of 1967, and his wife, Marilyn, started the endowment to honor and memorialize his mother’s love of art and to promote art to the students at Abington. The endowment supports the annual student art exhibition.

Bertha Lear Purchase Award: Megan Close

Close’s overall engagement and leadership made her the unanimous choice among faculty for the 2020 Bertha Lear Purchase Award for Best in Show.

Abington Bertha Lear

Megan Close, "Coatesville."

Credit: Megan Close

She has grown as an artist by exploring how a photograph can be more than just a beautiful picture. Close has learned the power of the photographic image, its place in society, and how it can transform an audience’s thoughts.

Close is always open to new concepts and learning about the craft as well as historical and contemporary artists and the work they created. She takes chances creating her imagery, transforming herself from her beginnings in the photography concentration.

Abington Bertha Lear

Kevin Hoang, "Self Portrait 1," 2020, oil on canvas.

Credit: Penn State Abington

Bertha Lear Award for Exemplary Achievement: Kevin Hoang

Hoang has worked with self-portraiture to explore mortality, a memento mori, with his face merged with a skeleton.

The rich color and texture of the work demonstrates his sensitivity to the subtleties of oil paint and show that Hoang has potential to develop into a powerful painter over time.

Hoang's increasing skill and ambitious exploration of form have led to creating large scale self-portrait drawings that have captured the attention of students and faculty.

Abington Bertha Lear

Juliana Cragin, "Nebulous Letters (DART 303)," typography design in Photoshop. 

Credit: Penn State Abington

Bertha Lear Award for Depth of Content: Juliana Cragin

The power of Cragin’s work hits you right between the eyes. While she has embraced a professional work ethic — managing time, exceeding expectations, delivering when and where it’s expected — it is the conceptual intensity and rigor she brings to her work that is by far the most impressive characteristic of her practice.

Singer Award for Black and White Photography: Chaza Fares

Fares makes work that screams loudly, demands attention, and ventures to challenging areas. Her self-portraits are one of the most interesting groups of her work, and she has taken a new twist with the artwork chosen for the Singer award.

Abington Bertha Lear

Chaza Fares, "Legs of Mother Nature," 2020, photo collage. 

Credit: Penn State Abington

It is a combination of Fares' exploration of the figure and her interest in the environment/nature. Fares found a unique way of exploring the interconnectivity humans have to nature, and her multiple image photograph is strong, bold, and very engaging.

Explore more art from the Lear exhibition here.

About Penn State Abington

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With about 3,700 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 21 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics, and more.