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Alumni Cole Sternberg, '01 VSB Presents New Exhibition


VILLANOVA, Pa.– Villanova University is pleased to present thirsty while drowning, a campus-wide exhibition by artist and alumni, Cole Sternberg, '01 VSB. In Sternberg’s exhibition with Villanova, multiple site-specific installations will be displayed across the University’s many historic buildings and outdoor spaces. Additionally, there will be a series of the artist’s “contemporary Plein air” paintings in the newly renovated Villanova University Art Gallery. The sprawling multimedia exhibition is a commentary on environmental sustainability and will be on display from November 3, 2022, until January 18, 2023. An opening night reception will last from 4-6 p.m. on the evening of November 3. Both the exhibition and the opening reception will be open to the public.

The images comprising Sternberg’s exhibition come from his travels across the Pacific Ocean on the maiden voyage of a shipping vessel. During his journey, Sternberg explored the meaning of a curved horizon and the power of the sea. Thus, on campus, viewers will see a serene, yet imperfect waterscape flowing across the triptych-style windows on the Jake Nevin Field House facing Lancaster Avenue, oceanic murals wrapping the columns of Bartley Hall and water murals covering the windows of Vasey Hall. The photographs note humanity’s attempts to create permanence, as well as its inevitable failure.

Altogether, Sternberg’s exhibition evokes a feeling he characterizes as “water consuming us,” where, “the earth has metaphorically tilted off its axis, spiraling towards a beautiful demise.” thirsty while drowning addresses the existential harm of humanity’s interdependence with the environment while simultaneously submitting to the inevitable and inescapable consequences of climate change. But throughout all, Sternberg captures the sublime grandeur of nature and its fathomless depths.

In addition to his campus-wide murals, the Villanova Art Gallery will display Sternberg’s signature paintings. The artist cites an array of diverse influences upon his practice, spanning Joseph Beuys’ social commentary, Abstract Expressionism, Moby Dick, and Bas Jan Ader’s “In Search of the Miraculous”.

“I’m hoping this exhibition will not only change the environment of the Villanova campus but also encourage dialogue within the Villanova Community about the environment more broadly,” says Villanova Art Gallery Director and Curator, Jennie Castillo.

Villanova University’s strategic plan, “Rooted. Restless.”, incorporates a ten-year sustainability initiative propelled forward by the Villanova Sustainability Leadership Council (VSLC). In keeping with this mission, thirsty while drowning will celebrate the return of one of the University’s most exceptional alumni and enrich the intergenerational cultural discourse at Villanova and beyond.

About Cole Sternberg
Cole Sternberg is a conceptual artist who lives and works in Los Angeles. His practice contemplates humanity’s existential quandary: being hopelessly destructive, yet forever and inevitably linked with nature. Through various media–including painting, sculpture, installation, performance, photography, film, and writing–Sternberg positions the aspirations of humankind against the dominant and regenerative forces of the environment and the arbitration of time. His works are held by major museums and collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA), the Pérez Art Museum Miami (Miami, FL), the El Segundo Museum of Art (El Segundo, CA), the American University Museum, (Washington, D.C.), and Deutsche Telekom (Germany).

About Villanova University
Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies, and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit

Gallery Location
Connelly Center
800 E. Lancaster Ave
Villanova, PA 19085

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