‘Hundred Dresses Project’ features layers of art outreach

Published 05.29.2019

The Gallery at Penn College

With extra layers of art outreach, The Gallery at Penn College is hosting a unique exhibit titled “The Hundred Dresses Project: We Are All in This Together,” set for June 4 through July 23.

A Meet the Artist Reception will be held Thursday, June 6, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. with a gallery talk at 5:30 p.m. The reception and exhibit are free and open to the public. The gallery is located on the third floor of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Madigan Library.

In addition to more than 150 dress prints created by professional artists, the exhibit will feature dress prints made by third, fourth and fifth grade students from six Lycoming County school districts: East Lycoming, Jersey Shore Area, Montgomery Area, Muncy, South Williamsport Area and Williamsport Area.

The Gallery at Penn College will host “The Hundred Dresses Project: We Are All in This Together” from June 4 through July 23. In addition to more than 150 dress prints created by professional artists, the exhibit will feature those made by third, fourth and fifth grade students from six Lycoming County school districts.Also, a Williamsport-based theatre company – Studio 570 – will perform a new theatrical adaptation in The Gallery at Penn College. Eight performances of “The Hundred Dresses” will take place throughout June.

“The Hundred Dresses” exhibit is based on Eleanor Estes’ classic children’s book with the same title. First published in 1944 and still in print, the book centers on the story of an immigrant schoolgirl who is teased by her classmates for her accent, name, clothes and family’s poverty. The story explores themes of acceptance, inclusion, art, empathy and courage.

Inspired by the book, project creator and artist Crystal Cawley invited nearly 200 artists to read the book and embellish a 14-by-11-inch letterpress dress print that she had created and shared. The artist was moved, surprised and impressed by all of the dresses that were returned, and she included each creation in the exhibit.

Cawley works with paper, textiles, collected objects and repurposed materials. Her artwork explores ideas of identity, time and loss, and draws on various traditional skills like embroidery and letterpress printing.

A displayed dress makes a literal fashion statement.She teaches in the Continuing Studies program at Maine College of Art, Portland, Maine, and is an artist member of Portland’s Pickwick Independent Press, a printmaking collective. Cawley earned her Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. Her work has been featured in national and international exhibitions and is in a broad range of collections. She has received grants from the Maine Arts Commission, the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.

During her visit to Penn College, Cawley will facilitate a workshop, “Sampler: Paper, Fiber & Stitch.” Pre-registration was required and the workshop is full.

“The Hundred Dresses” exhibit will follow the gallery’s summer hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays; and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays. (The gallery is closed Saturdays and Mondays, and will be closed July 3-7.)

The outreach to area school districts was made possible by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Information on the Studio 570 performances and tickets to the shows will be available on the organization’s website. Tickets will also be available at the gallery door the day of the performances on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, June 13-30. Thursday shows will be at 6 p.m., with Wednesday and Sunday shows at 2 p.m.

In addition to serving as an educational resource for Penn College students and a cultural asset to the college and community, The Gallery at Penn College is dedicated to promoting art appreciation through exhibitions of contemporary art.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free at 800-367-9222.