Posted on March 13, 2017, BY Samantha Wallace

A photo from the "Dust and Light" photo exhibition.

The Weis Center for the Performing Arts, in collaboration with the Samek Art Museum at Bucknell University, will host a free coal-themed photography exhibit from March 20 to Sept. 10 in its Atrium Lobby. "Dust and Light" will include 38 photographs from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) showing candid life in coal-mining communities in the late 1930s. The images are courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The exhibit is part of the year-long series Coal Collections: Local, National and International Stories, coordinated by the Weis Center and the Place Studies program of the Bucknell Center for Sustainability and the Environment (BCSE).

Jack Delano emigrated from Russia as a child in 1923, settling in Philadelphia with his family. After attending the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts to study both visual art and music, Delano proposed a project to the WPA to photograph coal miners and their lives in central Pennsylvania. The federal WPA program agreed to fund Delano's project, and the result is presented in this exhibit in its entirety.

"These photographs blur the line between photojournalism and fine art. They offer a candid vision of life in and around the mines in 1938," said Samek Art Museum Director Richard Rinehart. "At the same time, Jack's skilled use of the visual language of photography reveals both his artistic sensibility and the mood of his subjects. With the support of the WPA, Jack was able to capture the spirit of a community and to preserve a chapter of American history written in dust and light."

The exhibit will be a topic of conversation during a free lecture at noon on Thursday, March 23, in the Weis Center Atrium Lobby. "Arts and Visual Culture of the Anthracite Coal Region" will highlight the art and visual culture of the region, and how artists traveling to it both represented and misrepresented the area. Rinehart will be joined by Steven Lichak, managing trustee and curator of the WYSO Foundation, who will share the life and artwork of Frank Wysochansky, a self-taught artist of the coal region and son of a coal miner, born to Ukrainian immigrants.

The Weis Center's Atrium Lobby is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. The exhibit is free and takes place on both the first and second floors of the Atrium Lobby. The Weis Center ground floor is fully accessible; however, there is no elevator to the balcony level.

To request a hard copy postcard about the spring Coal Collections series, contact Lisa Leighton, Weis Center marketing & outreach director, at 570-577-3727 or email and one will be mailed to you at no cost.

For more information about the Coal Collections series, visit



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