Exhibit details College’s ‘Trenton Roots’

By Nadir Roberts
Arts & Entertainment Editor

When students, alumni, parents and other guests of the College walk through the lobby of Trenton Hall, they are now greeted with pieces of history that have been incorporated in the new “Our Trenton Roots” exhibit.

Fisher discusses the College’s progress. (Meagan McDowell / Photo Editor)

The campus community celebrated the exhibit’s grand opening on Friday, October 26, at 3 p.m. both outside and inside Trenton Hall. The opening included many speeches about the progressive nature of the College, the inspiration behind the new exhibit and what is in store for the future.

Remarks were given by several College administrators and faculty members, including College President Kathryn Foster, Vice President for College Advancement John Donohue and Chris Fisher, an associate history professor and the co-chair of the exhibit’s production. It was made clear that this is just the beginning for the everlasting relationship the College hopes to forge with the surrounding community.

The exhibit consists of 12 instillations that tell the story of a historical event, person or moment in time that relates directly to the College. The panels included information about the College’s first president (then referred to as a principal) William Phelps, student protests in the 1960s, LGBTQ+ activism at Trenton State College and an image of The Signal that depicts the news of Trenton Hall’s 2017 name change from Paul Loser Hall.

The exhibit shows a significant expression of identity by describing the school’s personal and institutional growth. The panels recounted the College’s origins and 163-year evolution into a diverse and prosperous institution that holds itself to high standards for academic excellence.

Secondly, the exhibit is a expression of learning, representing the highlights of the College’s educational opportunities. Lastly, it is a expression of engagement, inspired by a community of engaged citizens on and off campus.

“People can envision ‘Our Trenton Roots’ as a intentional engagement, sharing it with all of our circles,” Foster said in her opening remarks.

Fisher explained the process of trying to successfully put the exhibit together and comply with time constraints. An 18-member commission, which consisted of four faculty members, four students, five students and five community members, worked together to design the exhibit.

The project began back in February of 2017. Former College President R. Barbara Gitenstein wanted a report to be produced by the end of the fiscal year, which Fisher said only gave them about five months to work with.

The main idea of the exhibit was that it had to align with the goals and messages of the College. The exhibit had to be consistent with the College’s mission, consistent with resources they had available and speak to collective memory and their identity.

“It had to be related to what we do best, and that is educate people, we produce leaders,” Fisher said.

Art and interactive multimedia Professor John Kuiphoff helped with the technical aspect of the exhibit — from the concept, to the design, to the installation itself. He said that the exhibit will be updated regularly.

“The exhibit includes remastered film from the College from the 1930s – 1950s,” Kuiphoff said about one of the exhibit’s features.

The commission plans to remain dedicated to promoting a more inclusive environment on campus, and the “Our Trenton Roots” exhibit is just one step in trying to improve race relations and emphasize social justice within the campus community.