University Gallery Exhibits Art on Social Justice in Philadelphia

Panel co-sponsored by the Catholic Intellectual Series also planned

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

by Amanda Sapio '13

PHILADELPHIA (January 21, 2014) — First coined by Jesuit scholar Luigi Taparelli in 1840, ‘social justice’ refers to economic, political and social equality — a theme often explored by artists who hope to effect change.

In accordance with SJU’s commitment to social justice, the University Gallery will showcase the work of four Philadelphia artists — Daniel Heyman, Glen Sacks, Sarah McEneaney and Susan Hagen ­— who examine social justice issues in their work. Titled “Look! Contemporary Art and Social Justice in Philadelphia,” the exhibit was curated by art historian Emily Hage, Ph.D., assistant professor of art, and will be on display at the University Gallery in Merion Hall Feb. 17 - March 28, with a reception scheduled on Thursday, Feb. 20, from 5-7 p.m., in the University Gallery.

“A focus on the city often goes hand in hand with social justice issues,” says Hage. “Living in Philadelphia has sparked many artists to take on a range of concerns, spurring them to create socially engaged works of art and to be active in their communities.”

Hage will also moderate a panel discussion of artists and community leaders, titled, “An Artistic Lens: Looking at Social Justice in Philadelphia,” on Thursday, March 20, at 5 p.m. in the Cardinal Foley Campus Center, with a reception to follow.  The panel is co-sponsored by the Office of Mission and Identity’s Catholic Intellectual Series.

“Art has always been seen as a powerful and most effective communicator of justice in the Catholic tradition,” says Daniel Joyce, S.J., assistant to the Vice President for Mission and Identity. “This panel discussion will be a great lens into the social justice issues of our city in our time.”

Exhibit Participants:

“Regardless of the effect, these paintings, prints, photographs, drawings and sculptures evoke the rich complexity of the human condition, specifically as it is manifest in the city of Philadelphia,” Hage notes.

  • Painter and printmaker Daniel Heyman’s portraits of incarcerated fathers call attention to poverty and imprisonment in the city. The portraits include interview quotes from Heyman’s sessions with his subjects, which were held in the Philadelphia’s National Comprehensive Center for Fathers. The text, hand-written on the background of the portraits, chronicles each subject’s life experience.
  • Glen Sacks, who describes himself as a “street photographer,” focuses his work on Philadelphia homicides. He will display photos of street memorials created for murder victims that document stuffed animals, flowers and other meaningful items left by loved ones on-site. His piece, “Naming the Numbers,” which lists the names of Philadelphia murder victims in 1988, communicates their deaths in chilling starkness.
  • Sarah McEneaney’s paintings are inspired by her commitment to revitalization efforts in Philadelphia. Her works featured in the exhibit focus on initiatives in the city’s Callowhill neighborhood, and highlight her role in co-founding the Reading Viaduct Project, which aims to convert an abandoned elevated rail line into a public green space similar to New York’s High Line.
  • Susan Hagen’s labor-intensive sculptures feature average citizens, protestors and the homeless in Philadelphia. She primarily uses linden wood to carve her sculptures, then sands, paints, burns or bleaches the surface, covers the entire piece with paste wax and then burnishes it. A single sixteen-inch sculpture could take several hundreds hours to complete.

Panel Participants:

“An Artistic Lens: Looking at Social Justice in Philadelphia,” is scheduled for Thursday, March 20, at 5 p.m. in the Cardinal Foley Campus Center. Co-sponsored by the Catholic Intellectual Series, a reception will follow the panel.

  • Scott Charles, MAPP, is the Trauma Outreach Coordinator for Temple University Hospital and Director of the Cradle to Grave Program, an award-winning violence prevention initiative showing the harsh realities of gun violence for public school students and adjudicated youth.
  • Anthony Williams, Teacher at the Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center School Program, provides students in the juvenile justice system with a unique education approach, giving them the tools necessary to become lifelong learners.
  • Glen Sacks, artist.
  • Sarah McEneaney, artist.
  • Emily Hage, Ph.D., assistant professor of art, moderator. 

“Although each artist’s specific approach and goals are distinct, their works, especially seen together, invite a conversation,” says Hage. “By fostering dialogue between artists and others trying to boost social justice in Philadelphia, the panel promises to be lively and will appeal to a wide range of audiences.”

Saint Joseph’s University Gallery is located in Merion Hall on the James J. Maguire ’58 Campus at 355 N. Latches Lane in Merion Station, Pa. A campus map may be viewed online. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The gallery will be closed during spring break, March 9 - March 16. For more information, call 610-660-1840, or visit the gallery website at

Media Contact

Patricia Allen, Director of Communications/CAS, 610-660-3240,


Founded in 1851 in the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence, Saint Joseph’s University is a top-ranked Catholic University that provides a rigorous, student-centered education. With a total enrollment of 8,500 undergraduate and graduate students, SJU offers a wide-array of academic programs designed so that each graduate enters the world with a competitive resume and global perspective. This is achieved through intense academic study led by thought-leading faculty scholars, a comprehensive campus experience and robust study abroad, service-learning, internship and co-op programs. Upon graduation, nearly 100 percent of students are employed, pursuing advanced degrees or volunteering in prestigious service programs. A member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, SJU offers 20 Division I intercollegiate men’s and women’s sports. SJU alumni – over 60,000 strong - provide a powerful network that spans the globe.

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