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September 30, 2020
Fig Authentic: Stacie Brennan
Stacie Brennan, Curator of Education at the Lehigh University Art Galleries (LUAG), has always been guided by a passion for art. Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia first piqued her interest in the mural arts, and as an undergraduate at Lehigh, under the mentorship of late LUAG gallery director/curator Ricardo Viera, she discovered the possibilities of combining marketing and business savvy to support art and artists—and the huge social impact community art and galleries can make.
In her previous role as Senior Director for Visual Arts at ArtsQuest/the Banana Factory, and as head of the design committee of the SouthSide Arts District, Stacie has been instrumental in bringing the district’s newest works of public art to life. The bike racks. The mural panels. And the large scale murals: the towering steelworker on Third Street, painted by Dripped on the Road, which includes a Lehigh graduate. The bright and brilliant mural gracing Cafe the Lodge, commissioned from famous muralist Pau Quintanajornet. Created in partnership with the Cafe, it reflects the organization’s mission to foster a sense of self-worth, calm, and beauty among its residents. That collaboration, the dialogue between artist and community, “becomes its own exciting project,” Stacie says. “People come out to see it, they get to know the artist. It becomes a part of their pride in their city.”
Now at LUAG—back where she started as a student–Stacie’s mission is to share the incredible resources available throughout Lehigh’s six galleries and nearly 17,000 works of art, creating opportunities to engage, to learn—and to transform. Take a socially-distant stroll through Lehigh’s amazing outdoor sculpture collection of over 50 pieces. Explore one of this fall’s new shows, including “Doing Democracy: Photography from the George Stephanopoulos Collection,” which features major events throughout the 20th Century and the present—online, in the gallery at Zoellner, or on a self-guided tour along the South Side Greenway, where a public exhibition will be mounted. Or take a free workshop offered in conjunction with Lehigh university libraries, connecting writing and art through creative prompts.
There’s so much to explore—and so much that can bring us together. “Public art has a way of making people think about things in a different way,” Stacie says. She’s proud of the work ArtsQuest, the Banana Factory, and the South Side Arts District have realized, and is “excited to connect that with LUAG. We have amazing people on campus and in the community alike. When we get everybody together, the possibilities are endless.”