Melanie Lino, owner of Made by Lino and Lit Coffee in South Side Bethlehem, said during her video interview that access to food and trying to combat food insecurity matter to her.
“My hope is to create community spaces in areas where people don’t necessarily have access to land so they can grow fresh food,” Lino said. “I know that’s something we struggle with in our part of the world. I want people to feel connected to the land again.”
She chose an abstract print called “Carolina Memory,” by Romare Bearden. The print features a rainbow against a cloudy sky and a woman’s face. It looks like she is being held by someone. “I see a connection to nature here and support,” Lino said.
Erin Zebertavage, Downtown Manager with the SouthSide Arts District, also was among those interviewed. Community, family and friends continually came to mind for Zebertavage as she contemplated “what matters most.”
“One of the things I think [the pandemic] highlighted was the implications to mental health,” Zebertavage said, explaining that having community, family and friends is necessary to combat the isolation many people felt.
For her artwork, she chose a photograph of a beach scene titled, “Ballston Beach” (1984) by Joel Meyerowitz. There are people pictured sitting on the beach and frollicking in the waves of the gray ocean, set against the backdrop of a gray sky.
“It was a diverse crowd. Older people, younger people, some on the beach, some in the water, and I really thought it brought a sense of community as well as sparking joy,” Zebertavage said. “When you have an open, public space where people can come together, what can be better than that?”
It’s the third time Lehigh and the SouthSide Arts District have produced an exhibition on the Greenway. “Art doesn’t necessarily have to exist on museum walls,” Zebertavage said.
In addition to the artwork and videos, a notebook is being designed by members of Lehigh’s Counseling and Psychological Services. The notebooks will be available at the exhibition and feature prompts to help people work through the question of what matters most. One of the pages will ask people to draw, paint or write about what matters most to them.
Bill Way, a postdoctoral fellow with Lehigh’s Counseling and Psychological Services, said the exhibition is an example of how people can express difficult emotions through artistic expression, whether it’s painting, drawing or even cooking. “There are so many ways we can express that stuff and it can be pretty powerful,” he said.
Briana Luppino, a psychologist with Counseling and Psychological Services, said that for her clients, when they didn’t have access to certain things or life seemed unsteady during the pandemic, it helped them to realize what was most important to them.
“We are going through this shared hardship, a very difficult time and it seems like it refines or brings clarity to what matters most,” she said.
The exhibition will also be incorporated into training for Lehigh Gryphons, who are responsible for promoting an inclusive, supportive and engaging environment in Lehigh’s residence halls.
“Oftentimes in our work in residence life we are involved in those moments when members of our community are having a difficult time,” said Keith Blankenship, assistant dean of students and director of residence life.
“Creating space to reflect on those things that are most important to us, our core values, can be a helpful way to ground oneself and serve as a much needed guidepost when we are uncertain about the future,” he said.
“If we can utilize a project like this to help facilitate those reflections and conversations among our team, our hope would be to help students and professional staff come to better understand themselves, but also help forge more meaningful relationships with their peers.”
“What Matters Most” will be on display in the following galleries through the 2022-2023 academic year:
- The Gallery at Rauch Business Center
- The Fairchild Martindale Study Gallery
- Dubois Gallery, Maginness Hall
- Siegel Gallery, Iacocca Hall
- Alumni Memorial Hall
On social media, people can their thoughts on the exhibit using #WhatMattersMost.