First-Ever Student-Curated Exhibition Opens in Bellarmine Galleries

First-Ever Student-Curated Exhibition Opens in Bellarmine Galleries

Fairfield University Art Museum Executive Director Carey Weber (left) and Student Curator Phoebe Charpentier ’23 (right) at the "In Their Element(s): Women Artists Across Media" opening night reception.

In Their Element(s): Women Artists Across Media is the first exhibition in the Fairfield University Art Museum’s history to have been fully developed and curated by an undergraduate student.

Fairfield University Art Museum is pleased to present In Their Element(s): Women Artists Across Media, curated by College of Arts and Sciences senior Phoebe Charpentier ’23, and on view from April 21 to July 15, 2023.

This exhibition — the first in the museum’s history to have been fully developed and curated by an undergraduate student — features more than 50 contemporary pieces by women artists, with an emphasis on works created with unusual techniques or media.

Among the works drawn from the museum’s own collection are photographs by Laurie Simmons, Bea Nettles, and Donna Ferrato; sculpture by Linda Stein and Elaine Cameron-Weir; and prints by Althea-Murphy Price, Maya Freelon, and Sonya Clarke. This exhibition marks the museum’s first collaboration with the Westport Public Art Collections (WestPAC) which kindly lent seven works, including sculptures by Niki Ketchman and Nina Bentley.

Phoebe Charpentier explained, “I conceived this exhibition as a way to focus on a lot of the museum’s recent acquisitions of work by women artists. I also wanted to shine a light on on their contributions to certain traditional media such as oil and acrylic, together with less common materials such as plaster, aluminum, and ceramic.” She noted that the exhibition includes local artists, feminist artists, and twentieth-century artists working in and around New York City.  

Fairfield University Art Museum Executive Director Carey Weber, who served as the curatorial adviser for the exhibition, added, “Over the last three years, the museum has devoted significant effort to acquiring more works by women, particularly women of color. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to display so many of these recent acquisitions to the public!”

The exhibition is located in Fairfield University Art Museum’s Bellarmine Hall Galleries, and accessible through the museum’s website as both a video tour and a 3-D virtual tour.

The museum has organized public programs to accompany the exhibition, beginning with an opening night lecture by curator Phoebe Charpentier '23 which took place on April 20.

About the Curator
Phoebe Charpentier will graduate from Fairfield University later this month. She is a triple major in art history, English, and anthropology/sociology. She was a member of the Museum Exhibition Seminar’s first cohort and was involved in the curation of Into the Kress Vaults: Women in Sacred Renaissance Painting (Fairfield University Art Museum, Sept. 16 – Dec. 17, 2022). Charpentier plans to continue her studies in art history in graduate school.

About the Westport Public Art Collections
The Westport Public Art Collections (WestPAC) is a cultural asset of the town of Westport, Conn., with more than 1,800 works of art in a broad range of media — paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints, illustrations, cartoons, photographs, sculptures, and murals — by notable American artists, giants of the international art world, and important artists who established their homes and studios in the Westport-Weston community. It is displayed throughout Westport's school and town buildings.

Upcoming Exhibition Programming

Tuesday, June 6 | 5-6 p.m.
Lecture: “Women of the Westport Public Art Collections”
with Kathie Bennewitz, executive director, Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center, and town curator, Westport Public Art Collections; and Ive Covaci, PhD, adjunct professor of art history and visual culture, Fairfield University, and committee chair, Westport Public Art Collections.

Learn more at

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