Community Folk Art Gallery names local artist as managing director
Community Folk Art Gallery names local artist as managing directorJuly 17, 2002Cynthia J. Moritzcjmoritz@syr.edu
Lauren Austin LAW ’93, a local artist and former lecturer at Syracuse University’s College of Law, has been named the new managing director of the Community Folk Art Gallery, to begin July 1. She replaces Carol Charles, who has been interim director since the death of Herb Williams, the gallery’s founder, in 2000.
“Professor Austin brings a wealth and diversity of experience to her new role,” says Linda Carty, chair of the African American Studies Department. “Her unique background as an experienced administrator, teacher and quilt artist really made her stand out to the selection committee.” A Syracuse native, Austin previously taught legal research and writing in the College of Law, directed the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission and served six years with the U.S. Foreign Service in Latin America.
Austin received a bachelor of arts degree from Dartmouth College. Prior to attending law school, she served as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer in Latin America. After law school, she worked for the Syracuse firm of Hiscock & Barclay, concentrating in employment, municipal and environmental law. She has also served as the director of the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission in Ithaca, N.Y., where she investigated and resolved discrimination complaints in housing, employment, education, public accommodations and credit.
“The gallery is a fantastic resource for both the region and Syracuse University,” Austin stated. ” It exemplifies the commitment of the University to provide educational and cultural opportunities to all members of our community.”
The vision of the gallery, located at 2223 E. Genesee St. in Syracuse, is twofold: 1) to use the gallery space to showcase minority artists, assist them in regional and national promotion and to develop new artists, particularly young people; and 2) to develop educational and community outreach programs to bring artists, educators and community groups together through art.
“The University already has some key people in place, such as Juan Cruz, the gallery curator,” Austin says. “I see my role as providing the administrative, organizational and fundraising expertise to make this program really take off.”
Austin has been quilting, a skill she learned from women in her family, for 25 years. She dyes and paints the fabric used in her quilts. Her quilts have evolved from traditional geometric patchwork to fabric portraits of people and situations in African American work and life, as well as political and legal themes. Her work has been exhibited in regional, national and international galleries. “Did you hear, her son’s in trouble,” hangs in the SU College of Law’s E.I. White Room and was exhibited last year in the Heritage Exalted Show at the Onondaga County Civic Center.
Her piece “Lucy goes to vote,” about free elections in South Africa, appeared in the “On My Own Time” 2001 exhibit at the Everson Museum. Her depiction of international women human rights leaders who had been imprisoned or killed, “Homage to the disappeared,” toured worldwide as part of the 2000 Amnesty International and International Quilt Association Expressions of Freedom show. Her work has also been displayed in prestigious galleries such as the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, Neb.; the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn. and at the Sedgwick Cultural Center in Philadelphia.
To introduce Austin to the community and begin summer programming, the gallery will offer two evening art classes for adults beginning July 1. She will teach “The African Inspired Art Quilt” on Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. Gallery curator Juan Cruz will teach painting on Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m., and drawing on Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. The classes will run for six weeks, beginning July 2 at a cost of $60 per course. Advance registration is required because there is limited space available. Contact the Community Folk Art Gallery at 424-8487 for more information.