Arts and Entertainment

'Manual Labor' to open June 5 in the Robeson Gallery

"Manual Labor," a new exhibit that opens June 5 in the Robeson Gallery on Penn State's University Park campus, features intricate, repetitive drawings by artists Jo Margolis and Kate McGraw.  Credit: HUB-Robeson Galleries, Jo Margolis and Kate McGrawAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — “Manual Labor,” an exhibition of intricate, repetitive works by artists Jo Margolis and Kate McGraw presented by the HUB-Robeson Galleries, will be on display June 5 to Aug. 24 in the Robeson Gallery at University Park. 

A free, public reception will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, June 14, in the gallery. The Robeson Gallery is located on the lower level of the HUB-Robeson Center adjacent to the Penn State Bookstore.

Margolis and McGraw use simple tools to mark the surface of their chosen material — paper, stone, wood or wall — while consciously allowing for the drawn forms to grow organically. Over the course of many rigorous drawing sessions, these surfaces become enveloped with careful inscriptions, evocative of sacred texts or illuminated manuscripts.

“I am fascinated by the essence of calligraphic shapes and sacred texts,” said Margolis. “Some of my latest work focuses on forms that emerge, the softness of clarity until we know what it is becoming. There is something in unknowing that is both humbling and hopeful.”

Margolis and McGraw combine minimalism with the whimsical and enchanted to create atmospheres for contemplation and reflection, as well as metamorphosis and expansion. Both artists were born and raised in southcentral Pennsylvania. Margolis lives and works in Wellsville in York County and Kate McGraw lives and works in Boiling Springs, Cumberland County. Margolis earned her bachelor of fine arts and master of fine arts degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. McGraw earned her bachelor of fine arts from Penn State and her master of fine arts from Brooklyn College.

“My most recent work honors the infusion of light and spectrum as the vehicle for expansion and ascension,” McGraw said.

“Manual Labor” also will include a community-collaborative project called “Make Your Mark” that’s inspired by the works of Margolis and McGraw. “Make Your Mark” invites members of the public to make their own mark — be it a circle, squiggle, stamp or simple lines — and repeat it, in any pattern, in the style of Margolis and McGraw. Materials will be supplied, and participants’ drawings will be added to a growing collage that will be displayed as part of the exhibition in the Robeson Gallery. 

“Make Your Mark” maker’s stations will be set up at various public events throughout the summer, including Ag Progress Days on Wednesday, Aug. 15. Visit the HUB-Robeson Galleries on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the most up-to-date information on these events. Those interested in hosting a “Make Your Mark” event should contact the HUB-Robeson Galleries at 814-865-2563 or

The Robeson Gallery’s summer hours are now in effect; the gallery is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with extended hours during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. The gallery will be closed July 4 and July 29 to Aug. 12.

Last Updated May 30, 2018