The Williams Center Gallery is located in the Williams Center for the Arts, 317 Hamilton Street, on the main campus of Lafayette College.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Williams Center for the Arts, which includes the Performance Series, College Theater, and Art Gallery, is to serve the educational and cultural programming objectives of Lafayette College while endeavoring to engage the varied cultural and ethnic groups throughout the greater Lehigh Valley. This mandate yields a broad and comprehensive artistic vision that embraces both the educational values of a college campus and a diverse audience.

Expanding on the Center’s mission statement, the Williams Center Gallery’s specific mission is to present exhibitions, related activities (lectures, workshops, films, and other educational programs, etc.), and publications that represent a wide range of media, cultures, and time periods. All exhibitions and related activities are planned in accordance with the mission statement. Because it is broadly defined, the statement allows the gallery a great deal of flexibility to present a varied and lively program. Criteria for selecting exhibitions—both within the college’s curriculum and the regional audience that the Center serves—include artistic excellence; diversity of aesthetic traditions; attention to cultural contexts represented within the Lehigh Valley and campus demographics; nurturing of artists’ experimentation and growth; and the educational potential of exhibitions, lectures, and publications. Campus galleries, as part of their educational mission, are in a unique position to explore challenging subjects and provide a venue for artists whose work is best-suited to noncommercial spaces.

The Williams Center is at the edge of the Lehigh Valley, and at the cutting edge of contemporary arts. For 20 seasons director Ellis Finger and gallery director Michiko Okaya have presented operatic hip-hop dancers and performance-art photographers, countertenors and hair sculptors, slam poets and a cellist who played, and destroyed, a block of ice. Blending scholarship with entertainment, they’ve made the center a school, a satellite, a multimedia mecca. —Geoff Gehman, The Morning Call, April 2004, in an article marking the Williams Center’s 20th year.

Geoff Gehman’s “2007 year in review” summary he lists the exhibitions On Ice (“A sense-surrounding smorgasbord of min-glaciers and pinballing pellets that crystallized ice as a chamber for nothing and everything.”) and A Son and His Adoptive Father (“A quirky biography of the profound friendship between the Marquis de Lafayette, George Washington and America…”) among his six favorite exhibitions of 2007. He also selected Amour d’ Armor (“This contemporary companion to Knights in Shining Armor [at the Allentown Art Museum] featured a shark suit of silver metal mesh, a plague robe of Japanese rice paper, and other practical, wacky safety objects for an increasingly unsafe age.”) as one of his six favorite ideas in 2007.) (Morning Call, Go Guide, December 27, 2007)

2010-2011 exhibition schedule