by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
A new Trout Gallery director joins the Dickinson community this year. But for many on campus and in Carlisle, Shannon Egan is a familiar champion of the arts.
Egan earned a Ph.D. in art history at Johns Hopkins, holding two predoctoral fellowships-in-residence at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She taught art history at Johns Hopkins University, the Corcoran College of Art and Design and McDaniel College before joining Gettysburg College in 2007, where she continued to teach while directing the college’s art gallery. Egan grew the gallery’s collection significantly, through grants and an endowment, with a focus on works by women artists and artists of color. For several years, she also chaired the college’s interdisciplinary studies program.
Egan has also collaborated with a Norwegian photo historian/curator to create Across the West and Toward the North: Norwegian and American Landscape Photography, a large, cross-cultural traveling exhibition of Norwegian and American photographs. With funding from major foundations and the U.S. embassy in Oslo, the exhibition has been shown in in both countries and will conclude in Oslo next summer.
Closer to home, Egan has lived in Carlisle for 17 years with her husband, Professor of Art Anthony Cervino, and they’re raising two children here. In recent years she and Cervino brought the works of more than 200 regional, national and international artists to downtown Carlisle through Ejecta Projects, their downtown gallery that, while now closed to foot traffic, continues to remain active through traveling exhibitions.
Egan is eager to get to know the campus and surrounding community from a new vantage point as she and her team build on and expand the Trout’s interdisciplinary, collaborative programs. She’ll host two coffee chats at the Trout in September, open to all campus community members. And she looks forward to also connecting with students and with the campus and local communities during upcoming Trout events.
“I’d like people to know that the Trout is a welcoming and accessible place for everyone,” she says, noting that one does not need to be versed in the arts to reap the many benefits. She advises novices to trust their instincts and allow themselves time to drink it all in—to find details and make personal associations with what they see.
Egan also stresses that the Trout is free and open to the public—in several senses of those words. Just as gallery doors are open year-round, Mondays through Saturdays, the staff is open to discovering visitors’ thoughts about the works on view. That’s clear in one of the Trout’s current exhibitions, Perspectives: The Trout Gallery at 40 (opening reception on Sept. 1 and on view through Oct. 16), which showcases pieces selected by gallery audience members, with personal reflections on why they selected each one. “We’re also open to faculty finding new ways to use the collection and to new ideas about innovative programs,” Egan adds.
And, after years of being connected on many levels to Dickinson, she’s thrilled to make that sense of belonging official. “The excitement of the students, staff and faculty at Dickinson for all their scholarly and creative pursuits is palpable and infectious, and I’m grateful to be part of this intellectual, passionate and civic-minded community,” Egan says.
Published August 17, 2023