Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA (USA) was the sixth 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. Swarthmore received support to host the exhibition from Swarthmore College Libraries, Office of the Title IX Coordinator, Art Department, Department of Classics, Student Wellness, Athletics and Facilities Management. They were on view from August 17 – October 4, 2015.
For the first time ever the three mosaic triptychs were placed in three different campus buildings, topping and diversifying Yale’s earlier placement of the mosaics in two library venues. This maximized the number of visitors, athletes and scholars able to view the work and encouraged students and faculty to visit various areas of campus, such as the Matchbox, a new athletic facility for physical fitness, wellness and dance.
Another triptych was placed in the Unified Science Center, just outside a major lecture hall and adjacent to a popular campus cafe. The third triptych hung in the McCabe Library entrance, a location featured on all campus tours and a heavy area of student foot traffic. This multi-venue strategy resulted in an unprecedented number of student newspaper articles, four in total.
Lorenz gave a talk on the mosaics on September 10, 2015 in McCabe Library, which included a tour of Swarthmore’s holdings of Lorenz’s artist’s books, on display in the library as a complementary exhibition titled Angela Lorenz: The Artists’ Books.
She also met with two visual arts classes in the McCabe venue, including Professor Syd Carpenter’s Foundation Drawing class which focuses on drawing as an interdisciplinary visual language.
During this hands-on visit to the McCabe venue the exhibition cases were opened to allow for physical manipulation of the artist’s books on view, together with process materials from various stages of each work on view. These instructive materials were donated by Lorenz in honor of Anne Garrison, former curator of the book arts collection.
Many departments and employees of Swarthmore College aided in the installation, promotion and funding of the exhibition and related campus events, including Swarthmore College Libraries, Office of the Title IX Coordinator, Art Department, Department of Classics, Student Wellness, Athletics and Facilities Management. Particular thanks go out to two individuals who worked closely with the artist to coordinate events, installation, communications and photography: Susan Dreher, Visual Resources and Initiatives Librarian and Annette Newman, Assistant to College Librarian.
Photos of and links to Victorious Secret events, activities and press: