Wilkes University

Exhibitions and Events

Sordoni Art Gallery

Current Exhibition

Rust Belt Biennial

August 27 - October 6, 2019

We are thrilled to host the first Rust Belt Biennial, a celebration of photography with work realized throughout the Rust Belt Region in all its manifestations. For our inaugural Biennial we are grateful to have Andrew L. Moore as competition juror. 


This land, its people, the pride and the struggles, the patina of the past and above all, the histories and memories ingrained in the soil across the region. It is time to make new memories and new histories, while revisiting and reevaluating old ones; It is time to start a new dialogue about the state of photography and it’s social, cultural and political effects in our society; it is time to give back to the photographic community but also the region; it is time for you to join us!

Upcoming Events:

August 16, 5-8 p.m. | Art Block: Community Peace Crane Project 

Contribute to a community installation of Origami Peace Cranes. Part of the international Peace Crane Project, cranes will be displayed at the gallery and then mailed to students around the world. Join us from 5 to 8 pm for hands-on art making activities, music, and more!

September 7, 6-8 p.m. | Opening Reception & Gallery Talk

 Join us for the opening reception and gallery talk of Rust Belt Biennial photography exhibition. Free refreshments and open bar with valid ID.

September 11, 5 p.m. | Rust Belt Biennial Artist Panel Discussion

Yoav Friedlander, Niko J. Kallianiotis, Ed Eckstein, founding member of Frame 37 and Jamie Longazel, founder of Anthracite Unite. The panel will be moderated by Heather Sincavage, Director of Sordoni Art Gallery. Discussion begins at 5:00 pm.

September 20, 5-8 p.m. | Art Block: Live Glass Blowing Demonstrations

Join us at for Third Friday Art Block from 5 to 8 pm at the Sordoni Art Gallery featuring live hot glass demonstrations with the Keystone College Mobile Glass Studio, hands-on art making activities, music, and more!

The Poor Taters

September 25, 4:30 p.m. | Lecture: Undocumented Fears: Immigration and the Politics of Divide and Conquer in Hazelton, PA with Jamie Longazel   

The Illegal Immigration Relief Act (IIRA), passed in the small Rustbelt city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania in 2006, was a local ordinance that laid out penalties for renting to or hiring undocumented immigrants and declared English the city’s official language. The notorious IIRA gained national prominence and kicked off a parade of local and state-level legislative initiatives designed to crack down on undocumented immigrants. Longazel uses the debate around Hazleton’s controversial ordinance as a case study that reveals the mechanics of contemporary divide and conquer politics. He shows how neoliberal ideology, misconceptions about Latinx immigrants, and nostalgic imagery of “Small Town, America” led to a racialized account of an undocumented immigrant “invasion,” masking the real story of a city beset by large-scale loss of manufacturing jobs. 

Jamie Longazel is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. His recent book, Undocumented Fears: Immigration and the Politics of Divide and Conquer in Hazleton, Pennsylvania (2016, Temple University Press), won the North Central Sociological Association’s 2017 Scholarly Achievement Award. He is also the co-author (with Benjamin Fleury-Steiner) of The Pains of Mass Imprisonment (2013, Routledge). His work has appeared in academic journals across several disciplines, including outlets such as Law & Society Review, Punishment & Society, and Theoretical Criminology. He is also a co-founder of Anthracite Unite, a collective of scholars, artists, and activists working on issues of racial and economic justice in Northeast Pennsylvania. 

October 2, 4:30 p.m. | Lecture: Mining our History: What We Can Learn from Photos of the Past with Dr. Aimee Newell

The Luzerne County Historical Society has thousands of photos from the 1800s and 1900s documenting all aspects of the past, including coal mining and its effects on the people and the landscape of our area. Join LCHS Executive Director Aimee Newell as she shares some of these mining-related photos and explores what they can teach us about our history, along with how they resonate with the photos in the Rust Belt Biennial.

Aimee Newell is the Executive Director of the Luzerne County Historical Society in Wilkes-Barre, PA.  She holds a PhD in History from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst and an MBA from Suffolk University.  She has previously worked at the Nantucket Historical Association, Old Sturbridge Village and the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.  She is on the board of PA Museums, Pennsylvania’s statewide museum association, and on the steering committee for AASLH’s Small Museums Affinity Group.

Image credits: Heading Banner: Peter Essick, Steel Mill, Lake Michigan, Gary, Indiana, 2018 | Top: Anna Beeke, Kitchen Haircut, 2011 | Bottom: Lisa Elmaleh, 2012