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Giving Voice Exhibition Features Four Local Women Artists

Haint's Apron, a fiber mixed media creation by Martina Johnson-Allen, is one of several works representing four local women artists at the Widener University Art Gallery from March 17 to May 16.

There is no mistaking the empowering intent of Giving Voice: Women, Artists, Inspirations, a new exhibition featuring the work of four local women artists at the Widener University Art Gallery from March 17 to May 16.

Tanya Murphy of Philadelphia, the curator for the exhibition, said the show “bridges together” four women of different generations who have traveled the world seeking a common goal of appreciation and elevation in their art.

“The exhibit reinforces the influential power of woman and her ability to speak, act and express herself openly through her artwork,” Murphy said. “It has been my mission as a curator, in a male-dominated art industry, to be a stimulant for shows embracing the merit of women artists.”   

In addition to serving as curator, Murphy is one of the featured artists, contributing creations in mixed media and photography to the exhibition. “In the spirit of social documentary art, I am continually inspired to research history and create visual narratives that nurture my interest in the vast African American Heritage,” Murphy said of her work.

Another artist in the exhibition, Natalie Brown of Philadelphia, was influenced by her travels to Palestine in 2012 and 2013. “I realized the darker and browner people tended to live in the camps and the lighter people in the more affluent areas: a social trait reminiscent of how the United States metropolitan areas are tonally separated,” Brown said. Her wood-burned panels “convey how race and skin pigmentation still remain a dominant factor in one’s economic status, education, occupation, social acceptance and view of one’s self.”

Working in fiber mixed media, Martina Johnson-Allen of Laverock, Pa. recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia, and her creations in fiber mixed media that are part of the exhibition reflect that experience. “I was completely awestruck by the art, architecture and personal and cultural garments worn by the people,” Johnson-Allen said. “My work reflects mysterious and ordinary spacial relationships, colors and cultural garments of the people.”

The final artist, Anyta Thomas-Burwell of Philadelphia, creates using wire mesh and mixed media sculpture. “My work crosses the barriers of race, class, gender and socio-economics,” she said. “It is inspired by self discovery and my experiences. My sculpture actively uses both sides of the brain, which stimulates my passion for this choice of medium. It is a mathematical equation composed of light, space, composition, beauty, simplicity, dimension and volume.

The gallery will host a reception to meet the artists from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 28. 

The Widener University Art Gallery is free and open to the public. The gallery is open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and.  The gallery will be closed April 3 and 4.

The gallery is located in University Center on the Chester Campus of Widener University, on 14th Street between Walnut Street and Melrose Avenue. For more information, contact the Widener University Art Gallery at 610-499-1189 or visit the gallery website at

Widener University is a metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,000 students. Widener is proud to be a tobacco-free university. Visit the university’s website,