Erie’s empathy-inspired gallery

Kristian Biega, News editor

On March 13, Gannon University will be hosting the first-ever empathy based pop-up gallery from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in room 219 in Gannon’s Waldron Center. There will be an open mic to follow from 7 – 8 p.m. as well. The program is a collaboration between the Gannon University Social Work Club and a non-profit called Empathy Bound.

Empathy Bound is founded as a movement based on promoting advocacy, social justice and empathy in today’s world. Katie Dickey, sophomore Social Work major at Gannon University, from Pittsburgh, PA, is co-founder of Empathy Bound. She and a former high school teacher, Theresa Long, came together to form this non-profit over a mutual desire to spread understanding and kindness in a tangible way in their community.

The idea behind this pop-up gallery comes from one of Dickey and Long’s first inspirations for the non-profit – an empathy based pop-up museum in the UK that tells the stories of the real people behind each piece.

The Empathy Pop-Up Gallery will feature stations from the Erie community where students can create dialogue about the social issues in society today and how empathy can be made real.

Dickey was quoted in a recent article in the Erie Reader about her work. She stated that it is the work of telling others’ stories that most interests her and drives her passion for this project.

“I’m always interested in connecting with other storytellers, because that’s been my lifelong job,” said Dickey. “It’s more urgent than ever to employ our listening and learning skills in Erie right now, when we have a tendency to measure success in revitalizing our community by counting construction permits and tallying grand investments while overlooking those who might be left behind.”

This gallery is a unique program not only for Gannon University, but for the Erie community as a whole. Senior Graphic Design major and Photography minor, Tricia Shullick is the Mercyhurst liaison for the gallery.

“It’s so enlightening to be part of such a meaningful movement. I met Katie last year through a mutual friend and her passion for mental health and building an understanding for anyone and everyone is truly inspiring,” Shullick said.

Empathy Bound’s mission is one close to Shullick’s own passion for acceptance and advocacy. Shullick’s photography series “SurVibrance” will be featured at the gallery as a way to raise awareness about mental illness and the stories of those who struggle with it.

“Empathy Bound is meant to open everyone’s eyes to see that, despite our differences, we are all human, and we all deserve to be treated as such. Our stories matter, our stories make up who we are,” Shullick said.

In addition to “SurVibrance,” the gallery will feature stations from the Mercy Center for Women, Gannon Center for Social Concerns, METZ Food Service, Glamorous Gutless Girls, Gannon LGBTQ+, Crime Victim Center of Erie County, Safe Harbor Behavioral Health, student/ community art submissions and more.

The founders of Empathy Bound are not charging for the gallery, but ask only for a donation of an act of empathy or kindness.

For more information on the event, visit Empathy Bound’s Facebook page or contact Tricia Shullick at pshull91@lakers.mercyhurst.edu.