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Exhibition explores 146 years of architecture, fashion, student experience

February 08, 2017

Click here to see behind the scenes footage of the students preparations!

Historic preservation students at Ursuline College decided on a broad definition of the word design when they curated the exhibition opening March 3 in Ursuline’s Florence O’Donnell Wasmer Gallery. Designing Ursuline, which will be on view through April 7, will look at the architecture of the College’s five historic locations through photographs, maps and architectural plans; but will also feature samples from the College’s Historic Costume Study Collection and Ursuline artifacts ranging from actual dance cards, to nurse uniforms and class rings.

The nine students planning the exhibition combed through the College’s archives, the 3,500-piece costume collection, the archives of the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland, and the map collection at the Cleveland Public Library to create the show. They will model samples from the fashion collection at the exhibition’s opening reception from 5-8pm on March 3 and display another 20 historic costumes on mannequins.

“Ursuline’s five different campuses had completely different architectural styles but the commonality in all of them is the Ursuline Sisters, the women’s focus, the student focus and those ideals that have been carried on. So we’re focusing on student life in the different time periods,” said junior historic preservation major Clay Fellows.

Senior history major Emily Loftus said, “One thing we’re trying to emphasize is that without the Ursuline Sisters, there would be no college. They drove the train, every different campus, every idea. Designing Ursuline is history, it’s architecture, it’s student culture. We’re looking at how those things changed over time, how they impacted one another and how the Ursuline Sisters designed and adapted the student experience in their quest to educate women.”

Ursuline College was founded in Cleveland in 1871 as the first Catholic, women's college in Ohio. Its first building was an ornate structure on Euclid Avenue, long since demolished. The college moved to three other locations before building its current Pepper Pike campus, which opened in 1966. While Ursuline remains women focused, 9% of its undergraduate student population is male. The college offers both undergraduate and master's-level programs in historic preservation, placing students in internships and field studies across the region.

Panel Discussion on Midcentury Modern Architecture
On March 24 at 7pm, surrounded by this gallery exhibition, the College will host a panel discussion titled Midcentury Modern + Beyond in Pepper Pike. Historic preservation advocate Dr. Ted Sande, AIA emeritus, and two of the architects of Ursuline’s current buildings – Peter Van Dijk and Jack Bialosky, Jr. – will provide insight into the ideas behind and value of mid-century modernism, so prevalent on the current Ursuline campus. Plain Dealer art and architecture critic Steven Litt will moderate the discussion.

This exhibition and panel discussion are part of a yearlong series of free, public cultural events presented by Ursuline College in celebration of the 50th anniversary of its move to Pepper Pike. Financial support for this series came from Albert and Audrey Ratner, the Riverbend Fund, the Sisters of Charity Foundation, Third Federal Foundation and the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

Wasmer Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 12–5pm; Saturday and Sunday, 1:30–4:30pm; closed Mondays.

Above: Historic Preservation students preparing Designing Ursuline.

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