Art Gallery Director recognized with Frances Warde Award

PITTSBURGH – Amy Bowman-McElhone, PhD, director of Pittsburgh’s only gallery space dedicated to art and social justice, has received the Frances Warde Program Award, which recognizes an individual who makes a measurable impact on the education community.

The accolade is named for Sister Mary Frances Warde, who in 1843 founded the Sisters of Mercy in America. Honorees give witness to Gospel values, exemplify the Mercy charism, strengthen the campus commitment to the mission and serve as a model that can be replicated by other institutions without restriction. Candidates are nominated by the Conference for Mercy Higher Education (CMHE) after evidence of success has come to light in the media or through formal evaluations.

Nominated by Carlow University’s Sister Sheila Carney, Bowman-McElhone is revered for directing an exhibit space in which the university community, its partners and neighbors can explore social justice themes through art.

“The ongoing quest for social justice is the energizing force of the Mercy family,” said Sister Sheila. “To view this quest through the lens of art engenders fresh and provocative perspectives and incentives to action. Because of her work in the gallery, Amy is a perfect choice for an award that recognizes engagement with our Mercy charism and has an impact on the education of our community.”

The University art gallery affords students the opportunity to work closely with professional artists, curators and museum professionals. It also features professionally curated exhibitions that serve as a center for dialogue and creativity.

The decision committee paid particular attention to not only the community benefit the gallery provides, but also its ties to the critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy.

“The Conference for Mercy Higher Education delights in presenting Dr. Amy Bowman-McElhone with the Frances Warde Award in recognition of an outstanding program that articulates the values of Mercy in higher education,” said Dr. Moya Dittmeier, now-retired executive director of CMHE. “Dr. Bowman-McElhone’s creation of an exhibit space at Carlow University that enables visitors to explore social justice issues through art witnesses to Gospel values, strengthens the University’s mission, and expresses the Mercy ethos in engaging ways.”

Of particular value in the selection process was the space’s ability to forge deliberate collaborations across the University and with Carlow’s community partnerships. CMHE also selected Bowman-McElhone for “creating a vibrant center on the Carlow campus that engages with social justice themes and the Critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy,” added Dr. Dittmeier.

“I am humbled to be a recipient and to have the work of the gallery acknowledged,” said Bowman-McElhone. “This achievement would not have been possible without support from Carlow, especially Sister Sheila Carney and Dean Matt Gordley. I am honored to be part of the Carlow community and to work on behalf of its mission.”

The Carlow University Art Gallery strives to serve as a link between campus and the surrounding community. Extending the teaching space through experiential learning and public planning and is a central aim.

“This award has such immense meaning,” added Bowman-McElhone. “It highlights the ways in which the core values of the Sisters of Mercy serve as vital and necessary guide points for the art gallery as well as the work of the remarkable artists, and the dynamic and creative curatorial projects featured in our space.”

For a list of current and upcoming exhibitions in the gallery, click here.

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