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Presidents’ Portrait Project Brings Historic Charm to Second Floor of Blaney Hall

Katriana Garcia
Katriana Garcia

Most of the historic charm of Blaney Hall has traditionally been reserved for the first floor, but the second floor has made some presidential strides this week, thanks to the work of Cedar Crest College students. These students—most of whom are art majors—scanned old photographs of all the past presidents of the College onto canvas, added their own artistic flourishes via paintbrush to give them a contemporary touch, and placed them in wooden frames. The result is Cedar Crest’s very own “Hall of Presidents” in the main stairway leading to the second floor.

On Wednesday, students, faculty, staff and friends held a reception on the second floor landing to celebrate the new exhibit. Pat Badt, M.F.A., professor of art, said of the project: “The really nice thing about it is that this was done totally outside of class by students who really love working in art. The students really got into it and they wanted to keep doing more to make their projects better. This was an elite group of students.”

One of the student artists is Katriana Garcia, a sophomore biochemistry and forensic science major who has always enjoyed art. She painted William R. Hofford, the second president at Cedar Crest who served from the school’s inaugural year in 1867 to 1883.

“This is great. This is the first time I’ve ever had my art exhibited like this. I’m not an art student but I’ve always been an ‘art kid,’” said Garcia. “It’s exciting for students to get a chance to see the old black and white photos of the presidents, and be able to add color and give a new twist to them.”

Lindsey Wagner
Lindsey Wagner

Junior Lindsey Wagner, a studio art major, painted former Cedar Crest President William M. Reily, who served in that capacity from 1884-1892. She said of the project: “This is a nice way for the art department and students to step out of the typical areas and intermingle with the rest of the college community. It’s great.”

While there’s no telling how long the exhibit will remain, current Cedar Crest College President Twillie Ambar thanked the students for their hard work during the reception and said the presidential paintings would likely hang proudly for quite some time.

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Cedar Crest College  |  100 College Drive  |  Allentown, PA 18104  |  800-360-1222