Creative Expression

Lehigh University art professor Berrisford Boothe

Creative Expression

Recovering History, Reviving Culture

For more than 30 years, Lehigh art professor Berrisford Boothe has been an abstract painter, a realist printmaker, an abstract/realist photographer, an installation artist and a collaborator with improvisational musicians. He’s taught African-American art and co-founded Lehigh’s Africana Studies program. Last year he celebrated the university’s 150th anniversary by producing a performance by graffiti artists.

Along with commercial and industrial developer Jim Petrucci, Boothe is devoting his creative energy to collecting “master works that define humanity, that show characters in their full, most authentic human moments.”

Boothe and Petrucci have assembled a remarkably diverse, balanced group of objects by black pioneers, outsiders and revolutionaries.

“We’re using themes inside the African-American experience to foster cross-cultural understanding and reconciliation,” says Boothe.

At the same time he’ll continue his quest to help young professionals archive the careers and lives of established, elderly, overlooked black artists, so they can “work more and worry less about their legacy.”

"The power of a Lehigh education is derived from our deep commitment to fostering creative expression and innovative thinking. Our faculty and students work in partnership to explore the challenges facing us in the 21st century, with the common goal of generating fresh approaches to complex global problems."
Donald E. Hall Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Peggie's Bell acoustical shell art installation

An addition to Lehigh’s sacred grove

As part of Lehigh’s Hammerschlag Design Series, Anthony Viscardi, professor of art, architecture and design, worked with visiting professor Richard Kroeker of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia to design and construct a permanent installation in the grove near Alumni Memorial Building.

The result was Peggie’s Bell, an acoustical shell featuring an adaptation of “timbrel vaulting,” a self-supporting tile arch system introduced in the United States by Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino.

Viscardi and Kroeker dedicated nearly three months of painstaking labor to design and build the shell, named for Kroeker’s mother-in-law, Peggie Sisson, a dance teacher and music lover who died in 2015.

Students participated during their structured class times to create the structure that sits on Lehigh’s sacred grove.

After anchoring rebar to serve as a visual guide, they constructed the thin inside layer of the dome by interlocking square tiles at different angles, holding each in place until the plaster dried and the dome-like structure began to form. A second layer of mortar provided additional strength to the structure, after which horizontal terra-cotta tiles were placed in a herringbone pattern.

The bell came to life last autumn, when a choral group from the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts performed inside. Viscardi describes that experience as incredibly moving.

“As a professor of architecture, I gain great satisfaction providing these design-build projects for my students,” Viscardi said. “They experience, firsthand, the blood, sweat and tears that go into making something meaningful.”

Interactive string art installation

String Theory

This past fall, Lehigh’s Fusion Studio design group of students applied a creative approach to moving past conformist labels. The students hosted a campus-wide, interactive art installation to promote unity through string art on the lawn in front of Lehigh’s University Center.

By identifying shared similarities rather than focusing on differences, the Fusion group project asked students to take their own string to weave in and out of the display.

“It’s exciting to reach outside of our normal design work to influence the Lehigh community,” said Fusion member Hayden Hosto ’18.

Creative Expression by the numbers

480Lehigh students involved in theatrical productions

475Tickets donated to 87 organizations to allow more to attend Zoellner Arts Center productions

2015-16 Presenting SeriesIncluded 34 individual events with 41 shows, and featured 342 artists from eight countries

300musicians came together to present the Lehigh Valley premiere of A Child’s Requiem, a choral work that Lehigh composer Steven Sametz has dedicated to the 26 people killed in a mass shooting in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut

55,700Estimated number of attendees at 266 events hosted in the Zoellner Arts Center, which included conferences, speakers, community performances, Lehigh-related performances, plays, concerts and DanceFest. It represents an increase of 24 events in one season.