SUNY Potsdam Students and Faculty Travel to Washington, D.C.

SUNY Potsdam Students and Faculty Visit Museums in Nation's Capital, to Prepare for Upcoming Campus Exhibition

POTSDAM, NY (10/02/2018) SUNY Potsdam students and faculty recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit museums to learn best practices as they prepare to mount a campus gallery exhibit later this academic year.

Dr. Shiho Imai and Dr. M. J. Heisey, both faculty members in the College's Department of History, led a group of five students to the nation's capital from Sept. 19 to 22. During the trip, the group visited the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, completed a docent-led tour of the George Washington University Textile Museum, and received a backstage tour of the Avenir Foundation Conservation and Collections Resource Center in Asburn, Va. They also networked with SUNY Potsdam alumni during a reception on Sept. 20.

The five students were selected from Heisey's "Practicing Public History" course and Dr. Tamara Feinstein's "Chile: Dictatorship and Democracy" class. Feinstein is a visiting assistant professor of history at both SUNY Potsdam and St. Lawrence University, Canton.

The students included:

  • Jennifer Darlak of Lockport, N.Y.
  • Julissa Santana of Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Amanda Stables of Gansevoort, N.Y.
  • Charina Medina of the Bronx, N.Y.
  • Emma Woolley of Cherry Plain, N.Y.

All of the undergraduates are helping with preparations for a unique upcoming exhibition to be launched at both SUNY Potsdam and St. Lawrence this spring.

Imai received support for the Washington, D.C., trip through "The Bob," a competitive faculty award endowed by Robert J. Hill '77. The award financially supports SUNY Potsdam faculty in developing applied learning experiences rooted in the structure of an academic course, designed to position student participants for career success.

The group is working to prepare for a unique joint exhibition to be launched this spring, titled "Forging Memory: Chilean Art and Politics." The exhibit will highlight more than 60 Chilean patchwork appliques called arpilleras, along with programming to provide a deeper understanding of the meaning behind each piece, in both English and Spanish.

Following the takeover of the oppressive Pinochet regime in 1973, Chilean women sewed arpilleras from scraps of household cloth, sometimes including the clothing of missing relatives, depicting scenes of a society forever changed after the coup.

The exhibit of the arpilleras will first be shown at The Art Museum at SUNY Potsdam, in the Roland Gibson Gallery, from Feb. 14 to March 30, 2019. The exhibit will then move to the Richard F. Brush Gallery at St. Lawrence, from March 4 to April 11.

A number of faculty are involved in bringing this unique collaborative exhibit together, including, among others:

  • SUNY Potsdam Professors Dr. Liliana Trevizán and Dr. Oscar Sarmiento, both of the Department of Modern Languages, were both university students and later teachers in Chile during the dictatorship, and helped provide valuable context for the works.
  • Heisey directed a fair-trade women's collective called Jubilee Crafts in Philadelphia, Penn., in the 1970s and 1980s, which marketed and exhibited arpilleras as a way of educating Americans about U.S. foreign policy in Chile.
  • Feinstein traveled to Santiago, Chile, in the summer of 2018 along with SUNY Potsdam student Ryan Hutchins and SLU student Janis Broder, to conduct research on the arpilleras and the women who created them.

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About SUNY Potsdam:

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America's first 50 colleges -- and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit