ABINGTON, Pa. — Works created by two Penn State Abington art faculty are debuting in exhibitions in Philadelphia this fall, one at the Philadelphia International Airport and the other at the National Liberty Museum in Old City.
"Resistance/Persistence (It Takes Us to Make You)", by Dawn Kramlich, lecturer in art and art history, was selected for the yearlong "Jawn 6: It’s A Philly Thing" exhibit, part of a nationally recognized, award-winning art initiative in the Philadelphia airport terminals. She developed the piece initially measuring 18 inches by 53 inches on panel, and then the exhibition managers used a high-tech scanner to enlarge it to 7 and a half feet by 22 feet.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for thousands and thousands of people to view my work, which they might not otherwise see,” Kramlich said.
Her art practice is centered on the poetry-painting connection, but also in the ways in which everyone's relationship with words has shifted with the internet.
“What happens when we translate ourselves through a screen and then add meme culture to the mix? I feel the need to dig into it and how culture has shifted over the last two decades. My generation is the only generation to grow up with and without the internet, so it’s imperative for those who have that experience to share it,” she said.
Kramlich, who never worked in visual art until she was an undergraduate, brings a unique mindset into the classroom at Abington.
“I’m a logophile, and my love for words helps me guide non-art majors in ways not everyone considers. My left brain connects with engineering majors, for example, and helps me bridge gaps that otherwise might exist. I make connections using ekphrasis so I can say something in different ways and connect with more and different learners. I think differently and consistently about what text and images signify, and it assists my ability to explain things to students,” she said.
For William Cromar, associate teaching professor of art, his multimedia piece "La Trahison des Signes (The Treachery of Signs)" is featured in the exhibition truth* at the city’s National Liberty Museum through May.
The video installation is comprised of 42 individual projections of his wife’s mouth, speaking about 100 different phrases that might be considered controversial or whose meanings can shift depending on the speaker. The piece is silent, and the mouths are projected into individual surgical masks.
“Overall, the exhibit explores the slippery nuances of truth as it appears in public discourse. The notion was for me what does truth mean in a post-truth world? I was ruminating about it and landed on the idea that it becomes dangerous territory when two different people say the same words, and they mean opposite things,” Cromar said.
“Key terms have ambiguous meaning, a term such as ‘good people’ means vastly different things to different groups. The words 'lie' and 'truth' and other things are loaded words in these times,” he said.
It took Cromar about 50 hours to render the video, and it was challenging to get them to sync. When it came time to install the mouth-shaped piece at the museum, he relied on the iconic hairspray AquaNet to stabilize it.
Cromar’s teaching focuses on new media, and he is the director of the campus MakerSpace. In his art practice, he hybridizes a blend of architecture, music, animation, and artmaking into a unique body of sculptural and installation art. Cromar was one of three collaborators who received a Silver Medal at the International Biennial of Architecture in Bulgaria for the film "order through geometry," produced with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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 more than 3,000 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 24 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.