Penn State Lehigh Valley's fall art exhibition focuses on liberty and justice

An abstract, acrylic painting of an American flag

"Half Empty or Half Full". Artist Christina Galbiati. 2006. 18” x 18” x 2”. Acrylic, paper on canvas.


Credit: Christina Galbiati

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Three artists whose work examines the ideas of social justice, civic engagement and democracy will be featured in an exhibition at the Ronald K. De Long Gallery at Penn State Lehigh Valley this fall.

“Liberty and Justice for All” showcases the works of mixed media artist Christina "Tina" Galbiati, illustrator David Gothard and photographer Charles Stonewall. The exhibition will run from Sept. 3 to Dec. 7 — coinciding with the 60th quadrennial U.S. presidential election on Nov. 5.

“This is a time when we, as Americans, might think about the importance of being active civil servants and exercising our right to vote,” said Ann Lalik, gallery director and arts coordinator at Lehigh Valley. “In this exhibit, we address national events, social justice, human rights, et cetera through the eyes of three artists. Communicating through the varied visual tools they employ allows us the opportunity to explore and discover meaning and truth by acknowledging where the images take us mentally, emotionally and spiritually.”

Lalik first had the idea for an exhibit that focused on social justice and the American experience back in 2019, pre-COVID. At the time, Lehigh Valley's Office of Student Affairs had a full schedule of activities planned to encourage students to vote in the 2020 election.

“I always like to tie the gallery into anything I can that’s happening on campus, and I liked the idea of exhibiting artists whose work talks about some aspect of politics, society, social justice, or civil service,” Lalik said. She and Ron DeLong — after whom the gallery is named — began reaching out to artists and putting an exhibit together. When COVID restrictions limited campus access, the original exhibit idea fell by the wayside. The election year of 2024 seemed like the perfect time to bring it back.

Gothard’s political cartoons have appeared in a wide range of national and international publications, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and Time magazine.

“If we look closer at his work, there are a lot of elements,” Lalik said. “I think his work is brilliant.” Gothard is also an adjunct instructor at Lehigh Valley.

Galbiati, a graphic designer, has created marketing and advertising campaigns for a wide range of industries. She uses a lot of collage, typography, and animation in her work, with peace a recurring theme. Lalik said there is an “interesting abstract in her work.” In addition to her freelance design work, Galbiati is an adjunct instructor at Lehigh Valley.

Stonewall’s black and white photography focuses on the themes of solidarity, affliction, hope, fear and social justice. He had a solo exhibit of his work at Lehigh Valley a few years ago and will be teaching photography on campus this fall.

“There are strong feelings of compassion and caring throughout his work,” Lalik said. “He focuses quite a bit on social justice and thinking about other people in a way we sometimes forget to. I love that [the artists’] work is so different from each other. There is a lot of room for interpretation.”

The work of these artists is meant to spark engaging conversations, Lalik said.

“We need to communicate to students that as citizens, we have a responsibility to be informed, speak our minds and have conversations," Lalik said. "We have a responsibility to vote, as this is our democracy. From a point of view of helping students think a little more critically, in the sense of when you look at something, what is it telling you? There’s not a lot of black and white in the world, and so much is interpreted based on each person’s experience."

The artist reception for "Liberty and Justice for All" will be held on Sept. 9 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the De Long Gallery. Artist talks will be scheduled at a later date. Visit the gallery’s website for more information on upcoming exhibits and hours.