Essay #3 by William Earle Williams; compliment to current LUAG exhibition

The series of three essays written by the artist are presented here to support the Lehigh University Art Gallery (LUAG) current exhibition that runs until May 25, 2014.  LUAG rescheduled a gallery talk by William Earle Williams for Friday, March 21, 2014, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. A reception will follow from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. in the Gallery. His lecture, originally scheduled for Feb. 13, was cancelled due to bad weather.


The Underground Railroad is one of history’s finest symbols of the struggle against the institution of slavery. This invisible railroad was composed of men and women, blacks and whites, and people of all ages. They put their moral beliefs ahead of liberty and personal property. After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, this already secretive and illegal activity became even more clandestine.

Enslaved people seeking freedom “and their allies” adopted the names and symbols of the railroad to safely travel this secretive route. The conductors and stationmasters along the many routes of this passage adopted the name of the most technologically advanced form of transportation available during the 19th century—railroading. The advent of this form of transit was a national phenomenon that had a profound effect on national transportation. The connections forged throughout the country via the railroad, however, had the ironic effect of increasing the division between the states.

As the economy grew, Americans experienced prosperity in unparalleled numbers. Border states from Delaware to Missouri experienced this turbulence as traffic on the Underground Railroad increased with passengers seeking freedom tickets away from the slaveholding regions. The border states of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and the states immediately to the north of them, developed a strong abolitionist identity from the 1830s on. New York and Michigan, with their proximity to Canada and abundant land and water routes, have left this region with a rich heritage of places and buildings to make visible this invisible railroad.

The photographs in this exhibition show places both well-known and obscure that played a part in the history of the Underground Railroad—from the Caribbean to the Deep South to the shores of Lake Ontario. Two of the most famous “conductors” on the Underground Railroad were Harriet Tubman and John Brown. Both lived in Upstate New York and maintained stations on their properties in Auburn and in North Elba. Today, both are larger-than-life historical figures whose importance in American and regional history is well established.

Few people today have ever heard of Upstate New York conductors and stationmasters John W. Jones of Elmira, Grace Wilson of Cazenovia, or Gerrit Smith of Peterboro. James Walker, an African American, was a well-known stationmaster and conductor in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. These are a few of the mostly unknown conductors who played important roles in both the operation of the Underground Railroad and the creation of local support for its operation. The station stops on the Underground Railroad suffer from a similar fate as that of the conductors—anonymity. Some stops were well-known, however, including the Hosanna Meeting House located in Pennsylvania near the Maryland/Delaware state lines, and Levi Coffin’s home in Fountain City, Indiana.

The act of researching and locating these sites was the starting point for my creative investigation. The resulting photographs have become more than just documents. I have responded to the vernacular landscapes by using a variety of camera techniques including sharp focus, depth of field, and medium- and large-format negatives to heighten the metaphoric content of the images. A careful reading of the photographs will reveal a rich material world as well as another that can only be hinted at because of the silence of these places. It is my hope that this aesthetic approach will enable the viewer to make psychological connections to these highly charged and storied places.

~William Earle Williams


Essay #1 by William Earle Williams, compliment to current LUAG exhibition

The series of three essays written by the artist are presented here to support the Lehigh University Art Gallery (LUAG) current exhibition that runs until May 25, 2014.  LUAG rescheduled a gallery talk by William Earle Williams for Friday, March 21, 2014, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. A reception will follow from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. in the Gallery. His lecture, originally scheduled for Feb. 13, was cancelled due to bad weather.

A Stirring Song Sung Heroic:
African Americans from Slavery to Freedom, 1619-1865 ____________________________________________

The exhibition and publication A Stirring Song Sung Heroic: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom, 1619 to 1865 is presented to encourage discussions about slavery and citizenship rights while broadening our understanding of how blacks participated in the Civil War.

On May 22, 1863, the War Department issued General Orders 143, establishing a Bureau of Colored Troops in the Adjutant General’s Office to recruit and organize African American soldiers to fight for the Union Army. With this order, all African American regiments were designated as United States Colored Troops (USCT). The battle sites and training camps for these troops are designated USCT and when known, their specific regiment is listed.

Until the 1989 release of Glory, a feature-length motion picture about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, it was not well-known that black troops served in the Civil War. More than 180,000 blacks served in the Army along with 20,000 in the Navy from 1861–1865. Serving in segregated units with white officers in command, these men made significant contributions to the Union victory. Blacks fought in 449 engagements and 39 major battles from 1862 to 1865. They fought in trans-Mississippi, Mississippi Valley, and Atlantic Coast theaters of the War. By War’s end 12 percent of the total Union land forces consisted of black troops. This number is equal to the total number of effective Confederate soldiers still present for duty in April of 1865.

Presently, there is no comprehensive pictorial record of these sites. The photographs of the most prominent sites are exhibited and published here, including the battlefields of Port Hudson, Morris Island, Fort Pillow, Jenkins’ Ferry, Poison Spring, and Appomattox. These are the places where black troops contributed with distinction and valor to the final Union victory. Training camps like Camp Nelson, Kentucky, and Camp William Penn, Pennsylvania are pictured because these are the sites where these men became soldiers. My photographs honor their memory, give a precise description of the place, and provide a visual means to understand that it was in these places and landscapes that the moral and legal groundwork for the modern black Civil Rights Movement—and the concept of civil rights for all Americans—was established. Too often the historical and artistic legacy of black accomplishment is ignored. As an artist, the memory of these solders has inspired my artistic imagination. The ground they fought on is sacred and an inspiration for all Americans. These sites dispel the myth that blacks were given their citizenship and rights after the war without having fought for and earned them. These places confirm that 38,178 black soldiers gave their lives—training, fighting, and dying on those sites. Blacks serving as soldiers during the Civil War shaped their own futures, and America’s history.

~William Earle Williams

Lehigh University Art Galleries – Spring 2014 exhibits


A Stirring Song Sung Heroic:
African Americans from Slavery to Freedom, 1619 to 1865

Photography by William Earle Williams

Professor of Fine Arts, & Gallery Director, Haverford College Exhibition organized by Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College and LUAG Reception & Gallery Talk with the photographer: Friday, March 21 at 5 p.m., moderated by Susan Kart, Assistant Professor of the Arts of Africa.

At the heart of William Earle Williams’ work lies the visibility of black Americans within their own journey to freedom. Until the 1989 release of the feature film, Glory, few understood the contribution of black troops during the Civil War. The battle sites where they served with valor remain sometimes unmarked and largely invisible among pictorial records. At the same time, the Underground Railroad – the conduit of secret Northern passage for escaping slaves – survived on invisibility. Not surprisingly, the tenuous network of basement and attic hiding places remained out of sight.

Willliams’ black and white silver gelatin photographs honor the memory of places that played a part in the struggle for emancipation. They provide precise description and visual means to understand the landscapes where the moral and legal groundwork for the modern Black Civil Rights Movement was established. Using a variety of camera techniques including sharp focus, depth of field and medium and large-format negatives, Williams reveals a rich material world as well as one that can only be hinted at in the silence of these places. Contemporary prints, newspapers and written documents relating to the struggle for freedom are included in the exhibition. Williams writes,

“ Too often the historical and artistic legacy of black accomplishment is ignored. As an artist, the memory of these soldiers has inspired my artistic imagination.”

Facework: American Ceramic Face Vessels from the South and the North

Curated by Norman Girardot , and Ricardo Viera

Panel Discussion & reception: with Arthur Goldberg and April Hynes. Moderated by Norman Girardot Date/time: Thursday, March 27 , 5 p.m.

Before Facebook and its digital facework, people were captivated by representations of the human face. Throughout history of human culture from prehistoric times to the present, there have been anthropomorphizing traditions that saw faces in the clouds and used pigment, stone, wood and clay to make facial likenesses. The exhibition presents an intriguing American manifestation of a universal human impulse, focusing on ceramic face vessels.

Popularly known as face jugs/pots, or sometimes ugly jugs, these wonderfully expressive vessels are especially associated with Southern potting clans in the Piedmont area of North Georgia and parts of South and North Carolina from the end of the 19th until today.

The origins of the vessels is still a contested issue, with theories arguing for their roots in ritualistic aspects of African-American slave tradition associated with the Edgefield district in South Carolina around the time of the Civil War. Whatever their ultimate origins in the United States, popularity and efflorescence of the vessels loosely dates to the 1960s, when the Smithsonian Institution started to seek out, document, preserve, and celebrate dying folk crafts of the American South. In recent years a more interesting development is the growing practice of this tradition by Northern potters. The exhibition emphasizes the rich cultural, ethnic and aesthetic aspects of these traditions.

Through Spring 2015

Is It Art?: Selections from the LUAG Teaching Collection

Inspired by the New York Times article Is It Art? Is It Good? And Who says So?, this exhibition provides a platform for viewers to investigate perennial questions of “quality” in art, alongside their own expectations about what art is, and what art could be. The exhibition is a project of Advanced Museum Studies students: Alex Doersam ’12, Jocelyn Gurland ’13, Alexandria Kennedy ’15, and Rebecca Diefenbach ’13.

Feb. 25 – May 25

William Kentridge
Anything Is Possible: A documentary by PBS/Art21 

The film provides viewers with an intimate look into the mind and creative process of South African artist William Kentridge. His acclaimed charcoal drawings, animations, video installation, shadow plays, mechanical puppets, tapestries, and sculptures, as well as live performance pieces and operas, have made him one of the most dynamic contemporary artists working today.

The documentary will screen continuously during gallery hours. Screening and Community Conversation: LUAG will present an evening screening of the Kentridge documentary at the Perella Auditorium, Rauch Business Center room 184, February 25 from 6 – 8:30 p.m., followed by an open conversation moderated by Susan Kart, Assistant Professor of the Arts of Africa.

Presented as part of the Art21 Access: 100 Artists program in collaboration with the Lehigh University departments of Art/Architecture/Design, Africana Studies, Theatre, Music, English, Interdisciplinary Programs and Zoellner Presenting Series.

DUBOIS GALLERY: MAGINNES HALL (Mon-Fri, 9 am-10 pm; Sat. 9am – noon)
Jan. 27 – May 17

Theo Anderson: COMPLEXITY
Photographs – Buildings B & C, Mountaintop Campus
Pigment prints

Photographer Theo Anderson views physical places as opportunities for transformation. For nine days during the summer of 2013, buildings B and C of the Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Campus provided the context for his visual exploration. He notes, “My intent was not to document, but rather to explore visual structure and form, free from preconception.”

Gallery Talk: A conversation with Theo Anderson and L. U. President Alice Gast April 1, at 5 p.m.

THE GALLERY AT RAUCH BUSINESS CENTER (Mon-Fri., 8 am-10 pm; Sat. 8 – 5)
Feb. 3 – May 17

Larry Rivers: The Boston Massacre portfolio, 1970

Printmaking from the LUAG Teaching Collection
Thirteen embossed and collaged screenprints.

IACOCCA HALL, Mountaintop campus (Mon-Thurs: 9 am-10 pm; Fri 9-5)
Feb. 3 – May 16

Prints & watercolors from the Teaching Collection
Chryssa, Toyanobu Utagawa, Ying Yi, Toshi Yoshida
Greek born, Japanese and Chinese artists’ works on paper

Lehigh University – Department of Theatre Production Season 2014-2015

The Lehigh University Department of Theatre announces their main stage Productions for the next season; 2014-2015. We gladly post this announcement on this blog to support inter-disciplinary considerations to course work and research in the next academic year. For any questions about the department, please contact Professor Hoelsher. For questions about the individual plays, please contact the directors listed below. All emails are embedded on top of their names.

Celebrating Transformation

Note from Department Chairperson, Erica Hoelscher.

Soon, Lehigh University will celebrate 150 years of higher education. At the heart of higher learning is the process of transformation—a hallmark of Lehigh’s contribution to the world since the 19th Century. Education transforms our hearts and minds. It transforms the way we live in the world with each other and with the things we make.

Over the decades Lehigh has transformed repeatedly and will continue to do so. What will this and the coming generations demand of Lehigh? How will we help create the inevitable transformations needed to make Lehigh culturally and academically its very best?

In our 2014-2015 season of plays, we celebrate transformation with the theme of “Raising Voices.”

• We hear the voice of a shy girl with a precocious interest in science and the universe in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds,
• The voice of a generation of young people struggling with otherness and acceptance in Kind Ness,
• The voice of the charm and quirkiness of rural America in Minnesota,
• The voice of a Southern town and its people struggling with race hatred and violence in every tongue confess,
• And we raise our collective voice to denounce those who fail to act—like those responsible in Romeo and Juliet’s Verona… 

by Paul Zindel
Performance Dates: September 26, 27, 28, October 1, 2, 3, 4

Tillie, unlike her sister Ruth, is shy, young, and brilliant. Her passion for a high-school science project is rejected by a mother who says, “…some people were born to speak and others just to listen.” Can her dysfunctional family stifle Tillie’s voice? Is she destined to become her mother, or will she, like the sometimes beautiful mutant flowers she cultivates, blossom and surprise?

Marigolds won the Pulitzer Prize, the Obie Award and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award as Best American Play in 1971. One of Off-Broadway’s greatest successes, this powerful and moving study of an embittered, vindictive widow and her two young daughters has been hailed as one of the most significant and affecting plays of our time. “Let’s start with a single, simple word. Power…I don’t know of a better (play) of its genre since The Glass Menagerie…” —NY Post. 

by Ping Chong
Directed by Pam Pepper

Performance Dates: November 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15

In this coming of age comedy, six characters make their way from elementary school in the 1950s through college and beyond. With a Vaudevillian flair, projections, music and movement, Kind Ness ingenuously – and ingeniously – explores what it means to be an outsider. Recipient of the 1988 USA Playwrights Award, Kind Ness provokes and amuses while evoking themes of harmony and discord, likeness and dissimilarity and ultimately, racism and bias.

 and a companion piece

by George Sand
Directed by Pam Pepper

Performance Dates: November 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15

A charming evocation of rural farm life, with one actor, a musician and cut-out animals – taking place on a kitchen table. This delightful and quirky companion piece to Kind Ness, takes us on a journey through a particular sort of American dream: “It’s a great inland sea with waves of grain and vegetables. It’s a place where farmers raise cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, and kids…lots of kids.” ~~the Narrator in Minnesota

every tongue confess
by marcus gardley
Directed by Darius Omar Williams

February 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28

every tongue confess is a historical narrative centered around a series of church burnings in the backwater town of Boligee, Alabama. Healer and sage Mother Sister and her son Shadrack are at the center of Gardley’s non-linear mythical story which weaves together three seemingly disparate tales. In this Greek inspired memory play with music, African American folk religion is ritualized. Gardley’s fiery theatrical offering is “Part magic realism, part miracle play, part parable…a sort of epic theatre-poem exploring sin, loss, and redemption.”—Washingtonian

With a critically acclaimed premiere at the Arena Stage, every tongue confess received nominations for the Steinberg New Play Award, the Charles MacArthur Award, and was a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Augustine Ripa

Performance Dates April 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18

When we do not Raise our Voices to reject hatred, what can be expected? When a toxic situation isn’t exposed and expelled, what is the hope? For generations, many have seen Romeo and Juliet as unfortunate, “star-crossed lovers.” True enough, of course. But let’s remember they are, in fact, children and represent two of the five young people who lose their lives senselessly in a world where the grown-ups have allowed intolerance to fester lethally. Let us all enjoy the language and beauty of this immortal classic, and let us also think critically on the circumstances that allow this tragedy to unfold. Then, let us raise our voices against hatred in time to avoid heartbreak.