Many members of the Drexel community forget that one of the sides of Drexel’s triangular sigil represents art. “A Legacy of Art, Science & Industry: Highlights from the Collection” is kindly reminding the Drexel community that there is more to Drexel than science and industry. The exhibit opened April 12 and runs through May 30 at the Pearlstein Gallery.
The exhibit is what it says: a highlight from all the collections that Drexel University has. Now that doesn’t just mean art from the Drexel Collection that is always displayed around the Main Building. The exhibit is comprised from Drexel’s Archives and Collection, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the College of Medicine and the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.
The highlights from the Academy of Natural Sciences are definitely the selection of insects collected on the Vanderbilt expedition, the Blaschka glass sculptures and Luis Agassiz Fuertes’ watercolor paintings. The selection of insects contains beautiful beetles that could come out of “The Mummy” and colorful sphinx moths. The Blaschka sculptures are incredibly realistic; it’s hard to believe that the tiny thin tentacles of the anemones and jellyfish being displayed were handmade in the late 1800s. The Academy of Natural Sciences actually has the only Blaschka sculptures in the Philadelphia region. Fuertes’ paintings of birds rival photos from the best nature photographer using the best camera that money could buy. When observing his paintings, viewers might think they could feel a feather by touching the paintings. The detail of the feathers is extremely intricate, and the color is incredibly vibrant. These paintings invoke a newfound appreciation for the beauty of birds.
The music buffs at Drexel can find a blast from the past in Westphal College’s Sigma Sound Collection. These tapes have “The Sound of Philadelphia” within them, which was pretty good. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Sigma Sound Productions made most of the music in Philadelphia and actually went on to pass Motown. The exhibit has multiple-track recordings and headphones, allowing visitors to listen to the music and jive with sounds that Sigma helped record!
Another highlight from Westphal was the collection of dresses from different time periods. Showcased in the exhibit is an evening ensemble circa 1962 from Chanel. The ensemble is very intricate and gives off a menacing vibe in a fierce way. The feathers on the neck screamed sassy, yet it was not form-fitting at all.
The Drexel Collection displayed Hogarth’s etchings, “Marriage A-La-Mode,” which are like political cartoons from the 18th century. The etchings depict an ill-fated marriage in the upper class of the mid-1700s. A rich aristocrat is married to a rich merchant’s daughter. Of course, neither wants to be wed to each other, so the young aristocrat keeps a 12-year-old mistress who gives him syphilis. The wife, of course, has her own lover and is eventually caught by her husband. In the end, they all die, and the kids get syphilis.
Open to the general public, this free exhibit offers much more to see and is worth checking out before it ends. The Pearlstein Gallery is located at 3401 Filbert St. in the URBN Center Annex.