Virtual exhibit offers audio explorations by artist

Published 10.23.2020

The Gallery at Penn College

Although The Gallery at Penn College is temporarily closed to the general public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has adapted by offering virtual exhibits to enjoy online.

Artist Melissa Haviland’s “You can’t take it with you …” exhibit can be viewed on the gallery's website and includes audio clips by the artist.

“In addition to creating new work for this show, Melissa Haviland recorded audio descriptions for her five installations, so all visitors could have a fuller experience and understanding of the artwork,” said Penny Griffin Lutz, gallery director. “While our artist-in-residence program has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have created a place to view, listen and learn in the virtual sphere that we hope our audience will enjoy.”

The Gallery at Penn College is offering Melissa Haviland’s “You can’t take it with you …” as a virtual exhibit online. The gallery is temporarily closed to the general public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Haviland is one of two artists selected for artist residencies for the 2020-21 academic year as part of The Gallery at Penn College’s “Material Matters” series, supported by a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

A professor of printmaking at Ohio University’s School of Art and Design, Haviland explores the boundaries between printmaking and installation performance. She makes numerous small prints or large malleable prints that are installed together and fill a gallery, allowing her to reference the reiteration of objects and ideas in our culture.

“You can’t take it with you …” is about being swept away by the sea of life. It captures the feelings of chaos that enter our lives, the swirl of daily stresses, and culturally significant issues: the refugee or migrant experience, issues of rising sea levels and ocean pollution, and economics and class divides.

Haviland uses domestic objects as a cultural lens to focus on relationships, both personal and economic. Fine china, with its feminine and upper-class connotations, is an item she has investigated for 15 years in her artwork; this research was inspired by the fact that her last name is also the name of a china manufacturer.

“You can’t take it with you …” stews in blue: blue is melancholy, but also meditative and timely; it aligns with the 2020 Pantone Color of the Year, Classic Blue, and high rates of depression.

Haviland’s obsession with blue began in India, looking over Jodhpur, the “Blue City,” where blue has been used to mark the homes of the Brahmin or the highest caste. She adds that, increasingly, due to climate-related disasters and economic struggles, blue tarps are being utilized around the globe as an essential material, a cheap one that straddles class divides.

Paper boats “float” on the gallery floor along with paper china in a tumultuous “sea.”Haviland earned her Master of Fine Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Illinois State University. She has exhibited nationally and internationally.

In December, The Gallery at Penn College will add its next virtual exhibit to its website: Architecture & Sustainable Design, an exhibition showcasing the work of students earning Bachelor of Science degrees in Penn College’s building science and sustainable design major.

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

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