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‘Hundred Dresses Project’ grows tenfold through community engagement


The “Hundred Dresses Project” has expanded to more than 1,000 dresses in The Gallery at Penn College, where a reception was held Thursday evening to honor the artistry, empathy and outreach stirred by the engaging endeavor. On display through July 23, the exhibit features more than 150 dress prints created by professional artists and over 1,000 dress prints made by youngsters in six area school districts. The outreach to area schools was initiated by Penny Griffin Lutz, gallery director, and supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. The creator of “The Hundred Dresses Project” – artist Crystal Cawley – traveled from Maine to offer a gallery talk at the reception and facilitate a Friday workshop on paper and fiber art. An educator at Maine College of Art, she described the inspiration and origins behind the project and discussed the importance of creating art to “cope with hardship,” as the young heroine did in the classic children’s book, “The Hundred Dresses,” and the ability of art to create kindness and community. Outreach efforts will continue with performances of “The Hundred Dresses” by Studio 570 in the gallery on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, June 13-30. “The Hundred Dresses” exhibit can be viewed during 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.)

– Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor,
and Tim Wegman, student photographer

A young visitor enjoys an “interactive dress” on which felt shapes can be added to create a design; some of the shapes offer positive words: honesty, respect, kindness, empathy and patience.
A young visitor enjoys an “interactive dress” on which felt shapes can be added to create a design; some of the shapes offer positive words: honesty, respect, kindness, empathy and patience.

Gallerygoers get acquainted with the featured finery.
Gallerygoers get acquainted with the featured finery.

The project creator addresses the audience, holding the children’s book that started it all: Eleanor Estes’ “The Hundred Dresses.”
The project creator addresses the audience, holding the children’s book that started it all: Eleanor Estes’ “The Hundred Dresses.”

Expanding on the creative collaboration, Cochran Primary School students model dresses inspired by their dress prints. The dresses were made by Elizabeth Wislar (center rear), Lycoming College costume designer and costume shop manager. Enjoying the “premiere” with their students are Elizabeth A. Sauers (left rear), third grade teacher, and Chelsea Cramer (right rear), art teacher.
Expanding on the creative collaboration, Cochran Primary School students model dresses inspired by their dress prints. The dresses were made by Elizabeth Wislar (center rear), Lycoming College costume designer and costume shop manager. Enjoying the “premiere” with their students are Elizabeth A. Sauers (left rear), third grade teacher, and Chelsea Cramer (right rear), art teacher.

A perfect marriage of space and substance, as clotheslines (and a gorgeous blue sky) fill the large gallery window
A perfect marriage of space and substance, as clotheslines (and a gorgeous blue sky) fill the large gallery window

The gears were turning for artist Susanna DuBois … meshing well with Penn College’s technical approach.
The gears were turning for artist Susanna DuBois … meshing well with Penn College’s technical approach.

The gallery audience is attentive to Cawley’s insights. More than 130 individuals visited The Gallery at Penn College on Thursday evening.
The gallery audience is attentive to Cawley’s insights. More than 130 individuals visited The Gallery at Penn College on Thursday evening.

Copies of the classic children’s book that inspired the project are available for reading in the gallery.
Copies of the classic children’s book that inspired the project are available for reading in the gallery.

Cochran art teacher Chelsea Cramer and daughter enjoy the creative talents of area youth.
Cochran art teacher Chelsea Cramer and daughter enjoy the creative talents of area youth.

Artist Eli Sobel’s dress is more pin than print!
Artist Eli Sobel’s dress is more pin than print!

A guest captures an artist’s statement on a gallery wall.
A guest captures an artist’s statement on a gallery wall.

Among the professional artists' dress prints is this textured piece by Erica Licea-Kane. The artist applied acrylic paint via a pastry bag, decorating her print like a cake.
Among the professional artists’ dress prints is this textured piece by Erica Licea-Kane. The artist applied acrylic paint via a pastry bag, decorating her print like a cake.

Kind thoughts carried by creativity and string
Kind thoughts carried by creativity and string

Families enjoy the gathering.
Families enjoy the gathering.

Louise Surujbally shows her print that served as the foundation for her new dress. Surujbally just completed third grade at Cochran Primary School.
Louise Surujbally shows her print that served as the foundation for her new dress. Surujbally just completed third grade at Cochran Primary School.

More of the professional artists' work adorns the wall ...
More of the professional artists’ work adorns the wall …

... "dressing up" the room to the enchantment of patrons.
… “dressing up” the room to the enchantment of patrons.

The reception offered cookies – crafted in the college’s Le Jeune Chef Restaurant kitchens – that matched the theme.
The reception offered cookies – crafted in the college’s Le Jeune Chef Restaurant kitchens – that matched the theme.

Visitors delight in the engaging exhibit.
Visitors delight in the engaging exhibit.

Comments

Elizabeth Berkana,

This project and exhibit is so timely and beautiful that it deserves a larger audience and national recognition. I would love to see someone step up and pay for a print version of the original pieces and scattered works by the extended community/school participants at the three (?) venues where they have been shown. The variety of designs created by the professional artists are remarkable (not just because I am one of them) but the teacher-inspired classroom students produced some delightful and amazing work as well. Call The New York Times and get them over to Penn College to see it. Or “CBS Sunday Morning.” Thank you for appreciating what a splendid project Crystal has created and for furthering its exposure to the public.

Nancy Cawley,

Congratulations, Crystal!

Joy Tilstra,

Crystal, how great for me to see this with you. I’ve been thinking of you so often. Wondering and hoping to catch up with you.

Inge Laine,

Congratulations to Crystal for imagination and effort in promoting such an ordinal exhibition.

June Kilgus,

I’ve encouraged friends, neighbors and family to come visit this exhibit; it is totally an amazing feat of heart. I brought my 89-year-old mother, who is/was a seamstress. She was amazed at the creativeness; I only wish I had signed her up for the workshop the next day. She would have loved it and been inspired. She still sews, crafts, and is the “second floor” seasonal decorator for the assisted living facility where she resides. Thank you again, Penny, for this wonderful opportunity of bringing another unique exhibit to Penn College.

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