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Local artist celebrates 10 years with 10 performances

From Sept. 2 through Oct. 28, the Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Gallery will exhibit the unique works of Donna Schudel, a local performance artist with years of accumulated national acclaim.

Jim Toia, director of the Grossman Gallery and Community-Based Teaching Program, explains that Schudel’s show, entitled “Joan is Not Done: Ten Years, Ten Performances,” chronicles her 10 performances over the past 10 years, which she wrote and directed herself. The show will feature a mixture of mediums from visual to performance art and one performance will utilize the story of Joan of Arc as a back drop.

Schudel will deliver two live performances at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 and Oct. 4 in the Grossman Gallery, located in the Williams Visual Arts Building. The performances will feature artifacts and video projections. These will be left on display as relics in the Grossman Gallery for the entire duration of the exhibit. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, contact the Grossman Gallery at x5831.

“The Grossman Gallery has never held an exhibit comprised solely of live performance, so we’re very excited to have Donna come,” explains Toia. “This will truly expand the wealth of artistic endeavors at Grossman.”

Toia says that the exhibit will involve the input of art majors as well as art students from local area high schools. Schudel has already been meeting with these students and discussing ideas for the exhibit.

“It’s wonderful to be able to give our fine arts students opportunities like this to expand their artistic vocabulary into the area of performance,” Toia says.

According to Toia, Lehigh Valley residents, particularly local artists, will benefit greatly from exposure to someone who has been on the national circuit for quite some time and at the same time is their next door neighbor. Local artists will also gain greater exposure to the unique medium of performance, which, Toia says, is always a good thing.

“Introducing a new medium always sets the stage for a broad dialogue between audience members, thus tapping into the educational aspects of the exhibition,” Toia explains. “Exposure to new mediums is very valuable for other artists because it expands their knowledge. The same statement made in a painting can have a completely different effect when made through a performance. It can be a different translation of the same idea.”

Schudel has been performing professionally since 1993. Her interdisciplinary performance works include dramatic interpretations of feminine archetypes that typically evoke deep intellectual and emotional reflection.

She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute’s College of Art where she majored in photography. Her photographic works earned her a Fulbright Graduate scholarship to study abroad at Kunstakademie in D�sseldorf, Germany. In 1990 she moved to Chicago for her graduate studies at Columbia College. She gained national artistic acclaim for her performances in galleries, dance spaces, and museums, in Chicago, Michigan, and Philadelphia.

She has held professorships at Drexel University, Saint Xavier University and Columbia College as well as the position of performance educator at Saint Joseph’s High School in Illinois. She has acquired extensive professional experience as the owner of Big Vision Creative Works in Chicago, a textile technician, an artifact mount designer and art preparator and installer for the Chicago Historical Society and Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, and has received numerous grants and awards for her artistic endeavors. These include the Illinois State Arts Council Special Assistance Grant and Follett Fellowship and Weisman Scholarship from Columbia College.

Schudel is currently the assistant director of visual arts and education at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, Pa, and resides in Coopersburg, Pa.

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