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Delaware & Lehigh - Journey Through the D&L: Women’s Art & Events in the Lehigh Valley
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Housing three of the largest cities in the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, it’s no wonder there’s so much heritage and culture to explore in the Lehigh Valley!

Toshiko Takaezu (American, 1922-2011), Closed Form, 1993, glazed porcelain. Purchase: Edwin Schadt Trust, 1996. (1996.14.1). Image source: AAM.

Starting off strong is the Allentown Art Museum, and more specifically, Intuition & Reflection: The Ceramics of Toshiko Takaezu. Located in the Fowler Gallery, this exhibit features ceramic sculptures by the Japanese artist Toshiko Takaezu. On display since November 2020, the exhibit will remain open through August 14, 2022.  

The Allentown Art Museum is open every day from 11am until 4pm except for the third Thursday of each month, which happens to be today! On Third Thursdays, the museum is open until 8pm, offering guided tours and workshops. This month, the tour will include artists Mary Bauermeister, Louise Nevelson, and Toshiko Takaezu. The “drop-in” workshop will focus on embroidery patterns from their collections. Admission and parking to the museum are free after 4pm. 

Moving on to Bethlehem are the Lehigh University Art Galleries. Spread across the University’s three campuses and located in seven different buildings (with one outdoor display), there are currently eleven exhibitions on display. Five of these exhibits feature women! 

A black and white image of Gloria Naylor. Image source: Discover Lehigh Valley.

The first is Gloria Naylor: Other Places. Housed in the DuBois Gallery, Other Places delves into the works of African American story-teller and novelist Gloria Naylor. The exhibit displays artefacts from the late author’s archives. It includes drafts of novels, research materials, journal entries, notes, photographs, unproduced screenplays, and even unpublished writing. 

The remaining four exhibits are actually part of a series called Hear Me Roar. It is a four-part exhibition series celebrating 50 years of women at the University. Photographers included are Florence Meyer Homolka (1911-1962), Jeanine Michna-Bales’ (b.1971), Donna Ferrato (b.1949), Eugenia Vargas-Pereira (b.1949), Jennifer Williams (b.1972), Sandra Eleta Panamanian (b.1942), and more.  

Utilizing various distinct styles, these women focus on a large range of topics. From celebrity portraits to domestic abuse, feminism, environmentalism, womanhood, and the complexity of the individual in different cultures. There is so much to explore there’s bound to be an exhibit for everyone.  

A promotional graphic for Remembering the 111th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Image source: Sigal Museum

Admission to all exhibits is free, but please note that they are spread across four buildings, each with their own hours and parking. All exhibits are open until May 27, 2022.  

Next is the Sigal Museum in Easton, but this section is a bit different. The Sigal Museum has an abundance of displays and artefacts that are amazing to explore. However, they also have robust online and virtual programming. Coming up on March 22, 2022, is Remembering the 111th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, a virtual talk with author Dr. Mary Anne Trasciatti. There’s also In Conversation: Dr. Sirry Alang, Ph.D. a brief seminar series and Q/a on April 5, 2022. These events both require registration.  

This final event isn’t online, but we can’t just ignore it!  

On April 9, 2022, join D&L Historian Martha Capwell-Fox for Women in the Pennsylvania Silk Industry. This afternoon talk is in partnership with the D&L’s National Canal Museum and the Sigal Museum to celebrate our upcoming special exhibit, Beyond Rosie & Rivets: Industrial Women in the D&L Corridor!  

A promotional graphic of Beyond Rosie & Rivets: Industrial Women of the D&L Corridor. On view April through December 2022.

Martha will be discussing the rise of the silk industry in Pennsylvania, and how it eventually became a world leader in silk-textile production. The majority of the workers in these facilities were young, immigrant women.  

You can join the talk for the full story on the Silk Industry, but Beyond Rosie & Rivets actually opens April 2, 2022 on weekends! And it features women from a variety of industries across the Corridor, not just the silk industry. Stop by to hear and see stories from women that worked in places like Dixie and Western Electric. There are also pieces from our new Diversity Research Historian, Dr. Rachel Lewis, about the cigar-making industry.  

There are so many amazing opportunities to choose from in the Lehigh Valley, we can hardly cover them all. But we still hope that when you’re taking a break from hiking and biking the D&L Trail, you’ll take a moment to relax; to explore and appreciate the abundant talent the Valley has to offer!

P.S. Help us save and celebrate the history of women in our area! Have any of your family members worked in industry? #TellUsHerStory and send us a photo to be featured in a rotating presentation to be displayed alongside Beyond Rosie & Rivets! You can submit information here. 


**Brought to you by a project made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this post do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.**

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