Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT (USA) was the fourth venue for the mosaic installation Victorious Secret created by visual artist Angela Lorenz in 2012-2013. This set of three triptychs, encompassing nine panels in all, is based upon actual ancient mosaics from 300 AD still in their original location in Piazza Armerina, Sicily (Italy).
These mosaics of female athletes made out of buttons are dedicated to Title IX, a law created in the United States in 1972 to address inequality in women’s university sports programs and other discrimination. Wesleyan received support to host the exhibition from a variety of campus departments and offices, including the Athletics Department, the Office of Equity and Inclusion and the Friends of Wesleyan Library. They were on view from November 10, 2014 – February 28, 2015.
The mosaics were placed in a heavy area of foot traffic on campus to maximize the number of visitors, athletes and scholars able to view the work: the elegant, monumental lobby of Olin Library. In addition to an informative poster displayed next to the mosaics, the video of Victorious Secret was continuously run on a monitor adjacent to the exhibit, allowing students to unlock the meaning of the piece and its iconography of athletic equipment and prizes. It would be difficult to imagine a more appropriate setting for the mosaics in the United States, as the Olin Library lobby is based on ancient Roman decor with a marble mosaic-tiled floor, three-legged bronze lamps and marble columns. Bespoke wooden panels were created to display the mosaics free-standing in a semi-circle reminiscent of a Roman theater.
Lorenz gave a talk on the mosaics on November 19, 2014 in Olin Library, which was followed by an open house in Special Collections to which the public was invited to view and handle a selection of the artist’s holdings at Wesleyan. At another event organized by the university, students and staff played Lorenz’s 12-foot long cloth game based on John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678).
The artist is grateful for the support of many departments and employees of Wesleyan University that aided in the installation, promotion and funding of the exhibition and related campus events. In particular thanks go out to Director of Special Collections and Archives, Suzy Taraba, and Jennifer Hadley, Library Assistant, who collaborated closely with the artist to coordinate events and communications. Funding from the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Athletics Department, the Friends of Wesleyan Library and Olin’s Special Collections and Archives made the exhibition possible. The Davison Art Gallery kindly lent master installer Lee Berman, who designed and created the free-standing wooden panels for the mosaics specifically for the Wesleyan venue.
Photos of and links to Victorious Secret events, activities and press: