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Laura Mecklenburger - Spell Craft

  • University City Arts League 4226 Spruce Street, 19104 (map)
Reservations , 2018, Ceramic, paper maché, ink, hemp cord, glass vials, silver ring from ex-girlfriend and other found objects, mixed media, approx. 18in x 14in x 12in. Photo: Laura Mecklenburger

Reservations, 2018, Ceramic, paper maché, ink, hemp cord, glass vials, silver ring from ex-girlfriend and other found objects, mixed media, approx. 18in x 14in x 12in. Photo: Laura Mecklenburger

The University City Arts League (UCAL) is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new works by Laura Mecklenburger. The exhibition, organized by UCAL Gallery Committee member and artist Vicente Ortiz Cortez, will be on view from March 22nd through April 26th at 4226 Spruce Street. An opening reception will be held on Friday, March 22nd, from 6:00 to 8:00pm.


Combining her fine arts training with her practice as an initiated witch, Mecklenburger explores the healing power of art. She immerses herself into the art making process in the form of spell, conjuring up inner thoughts and emotions, resulting in intricately detailed work on paper, clay, and mixed media. The imagery in her work is inspired by the transforming life-cycle changes in insects, fungi, and plants. Influenced by her queer experience and Jewish background, she’s concerned about underrepresented communities and sociopolitical issues, addressing vulnerability, healing, self-transformation, and protection in her work. Brought together in participatory shrines layered in symbolism, her installations offer visitors an opportunity to voice their concerns.


“To cast a spell is to create change in yourself and the world through indirect or intangible action. We all dream of better lives, but we are at the mercy of nature, chance, and other people. Even the most privileged people have needs and desires that direct action can’t reliably meet, and most of us don’t have access to wealth or power, either. So we pull together every powerful resource we do have – our possessions, our ecosystems and gardens, our words and songs and dances, our deities and ancestors, our blood and breath, emotion, patience, and time – to make magic. I also use my pen, scissors, clay, and my ability to sculpt and draw living beings to bring power and direction to my spells. This exhibition brings together the tangible and colorful remains of spells I have crafted for myself and my community, and invites visitors to participate in continuing magic.” – Laura Mecklenburger


Laura Mecklenburger is a Philadelphia-based artist and an initiated witch. She received her MFA in ceramics from the Pennsylvania State University. Mecklenburger earned a BA from Swarthmore College, and completed Post-Baccalaureate certificates from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the Tyler School of Art, Temple University. She has exhibited and given presentations on her work at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) in Houston, Texas; the Edwin W. Zoller Gallery in University Park, PA; and the Da Vinci Art Alliance in Philadelphia, PA among others. Her work has been featured in Cleaver Magazine. Mecklenburger’s work is in the collection of Swarthmore College.


Vicente Ortiz Cortez is an artist from Guanajuato, Mexico currently based in Philadelphia, PA. He holds a BFA from the Pennsylvania State University, and also attended Studio Arts College International (SACI) in Florence, Italy. He joined the UCAL Gallery Committee in 2018. Ortiz Cortez is a former curatorial assistant of the Palmer Museum of Art in University Park, PA. His work, which examines sexuality and identity, has been shown recently in group exhibitions at the Czong Institute for Contemporary Art (CICA) Museum in Gyeonggi, South Korea; Bahdeebahdu in Philadelphia, PA; and at Ground Floor Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.


The University City Arts League (UCAL) is a non-profit arts center that has been committed to the West Philadelphia neighborhood it resides in since 1965. The Gallery at UCAL exhibits emerging and established artists to inspire, educate, and engage the West Philadelphia community in the visual arts. The gallery provides a contemporary exhibition space for regional artists and is a cultural gathering place and active participant in the Philadelphia arts network. The Gallery at UCAL is opened weekdays from 10:00am to 6:00pm and by appointment.  


Please contact Annette Monnier, Executive Director by e-mailing director@ucartsleague.org with questions or press inquiries.

Earlier Event: March 22
Talk: Benjamin F. Weaver and Mike Tanis
Later Event: March 22
Talk: David C. Driskell