Drexel-created Art to be Auctioned to Fund Scholarships

Paintings created by members of Information Technology groups from across Drexel University will be displayed on campus Aug. 22–24 and put up for sale on Aug. 24 to raise money to establish a Drexel IT Advancing Women in Technology scholarship.
A painting with a cornflower blue background and dripped paint and squiggles in shades of dark and light blue and pink.
The painting painted by Kristin DeChiaro, media services manager in LeBow Instructional Technology. All photos posted in this story were taken by Thomas Cavalcante, Heath Bailey and Wilson Liu.

Art painted by Drexel University professional staff members will be on display on campus from Aug. 22–24 and even available to be purchased in an auction benefitting student scholarships. It’s a colorful end to a fun team building exercise for the central and distributed IT groups. 

“The objective was for the members of Drexel’s IT communities to come together outside of the office and do something completely new,” said Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Thomas DeChiaro. “And then once that exercise ended, we realized we had something wonderful on our hands with everyone’s paintings, and we decided to have an auction to benefit our scholarship fund.”

The Drexel IT Advancing Women in Technology fund will establish a future scholarship for students of all genders who support the advancement of women in technology and are pursing degrees in engineering, computer science, and cyber security. It was started by Drexel IT in 2019. This is the first time that an art auction is being held to contribute to the fund; previously, Drexel IT hosted charity golf outings to raise money, as it did this past year on July 24 at the Union League Golf Club at Torresdale. Scholarship awards will begin once enough money has been raised to endow the fund, and DeChiaro hopes this auction will help.

There will be over 50 paintings shown and available for bidding in the Drexel IT Painting for Dragons Art Exhibit in Drexel’s Leonard Pearlstein Gallery at 3401 Filbert St. The exhibit hours are from 12–4 p.m. on Aug. 22 and Aug. 23, and 12–3 p.m. on Aug. 24. A cocktail reception and auction will be held from 5:30–8 p.m. on Aug. 24. You can RSVP for the Aug. 24 event by Aug. 18. Bids can be placed before the auction if someone cannot attend the event. Can’t attend the auction and want to help? You can make a gift to support Drexel IT Advancing Women in Technology

A large colorful painting with red, yellow, orange, black and blue paints swirled and dripped over the canvas.
The collaborative painting created by participants from the IT teambuilding exercise.

Among the pieces of art will be two large paintings collaboratively created by the 50–60 painters and 25 volunteers who participated in the IT team building exercise in May: one with handprints of all of the Dragons, and another that was painted on — or, rather, mostly splattered and dripped on in the style of Jackson Pollock — by those professional staff members. There will also be individual paintings that the Dragons worked on themselves, which range from abstract works to a painting of a navy baseball hat with the gold Drexel Dragons logo to a painting painted on with a bagel and another featuring a painted-over slice of pizza. 

“We didn’t provide any rules for how painting should be created because we wanted to draw on everyone’s individual imagination,” said DeChiaro. “Some people were using brushes, and some people were using food as painting devices. People started to get incredibly into it by painting and looking at what others were doing, and ideas were just flowing out of everybody.”

A painting with swirls of yellows, greens, blues and reds.
A painting by Patty Pickup, senior data warehouse analyst in the Application Development Group in the College of Medicine.

The Sherwin-Williams paint was donated by PAINTech, Inc., and Drexel provided the utensils (bagels leftover from breakfast became paint “brushes” and a remaining slice of lunchtime pizza was affixed to a canvas, then painted).The activity was arranged in an art studio on Drexel’s campus as facilitated by Sarah Steinwachs, associate professor and head of Drexel’s Art & Art History Department; Steinwachs and the department also helped with obtaining the gallery space and hanging the art along with Drexel IT volunteers. 

DeChiaro isn’t sure what will happen for the next IT team building exercise, but he’s thrilled that something so productive came out of this one: it benefits the IT team, the students who can later receive the scholarship and the auction attendees who will be taking home pieces of art while contributing to the scholarship.

“From a team building perspective, I think people really appreciated the painting event because they got to work together on a large collaborative piece, but they also got to see people they don't necessarily spend time with on a day-to-day basis. The IT organization has different departments that do different things and they don't necessarily work together all the time,” he said. “I think that’s part of the beauty of this kind of exercise.”