Arts educator takes over as new Allens Lane director

by Len Lear
Posted 7/29/21

Nancy Sophy, MFA, began her tenure as the Center’s new Executive Director on July 12.

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Arts educator takes over as new Allens Lane director

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Allens Lane Art Center (ALAC), 601 W. Allens Lane in West Mt. Airy, like every other arts organization, has been struggling for the last 16 months with the effects of Covid-19, but they are slowly getting back to normal with their summer camp, upcoming theater productions and classes for both children and adults. All will be aided by the appointment of Nancy Sophy, MFA, who began her tenure as the Center’s new Executive Director on July 12.

Craig Stover was the previous Executive Director. He left at the end of March after more than 10 years at the helm, and Susan Schewel was the interim Executive Director until Sophy joined the team at Allens Lane.

Sophy, 49, a Mt. Airy resident and native of Coopersburg, PA, brings over 20 years of professional experience as an arts administrator, educator and visual artist with deep connections to Philadelphia’s art community. An art minor at Moravian College, Sophy went on to earn an MFA at the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) and had the first exhibit of her own art work in 1998 at Muhlenberg College in Allentown.

“PAFA presented a wonderful opportunity for me,” Sophy said last week, “because it is a painters' school. I was in only the school's fifth MFA class, so it was exciting because the classes were small and the students had a lot of input … My parents were really not into the arts (dad was a construction worker, and mom was a third grade teacher), but they always supported my choices.”

Sophy has held leadership roles with prominent regional organizations, including Manager of Community Partnerships in the Arts and Manager of Children and Youth Programs at Fleisher Art Memorial, Program Coordinator of Form in Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) and Director of Programs for Creative Artist Network (now known as The Center for Emerging Visual Artists).

She has also taught as a part-time (“adjunct”) teacher at PMA, the Rodin Museum, PAFA (their high school program) Moore College of Art & Design, Holy Family University, Rosemont College, Delaware County Community College and for 15 years on the faculty at Rowan University, but her teaching at Rowan ended in May of this year so she could begin her job at ALAC.

“I missed working in the community I live in,” she said. “I wasn't really looking for a new job, but the mission here [at Allens Lane] really resonated with me. My family was looking to be a part of Mt. Airy, and I am so excited and passionate about our mission to continue to connect to the community and to look for opportunities to work with local public schools and nonprofits.

Sophy is a practicing visual artist who has exhibited her paintings and drawings in solo and group exhibitions in the region and nationally. Her work appears in private collections and has been exhibited in Philadelphia galleries such as Fleisher Art Memorial and Seraphin Gallery and is in the collection of PMA. “I was so excited when I found out that they bought my piece (in 2009), and they included it in their exhibition, 'First Look: Collecting for Philadelphia,' in 2013, and it is now part of their permanent collection,” said Sophy. whose work will be included in a show starting Sept. 1 at the Cerulean Gallery 

In 2006 Sophy received a travel fellowship from the Center for Emerging Visual Artists that enabled her to go to Lebanon for a month, where she visited relatives she had never met before. She is still in touch with them. “What a wonderful experience that was,” she said.

A nonprofit organization founded in 1953, Allens Lane Art Center offers art classes for children and adults, a robust ceramics program, summer arts camp, art for the visually impaired, professional and student art exhibitions and theatrical plays on the mainstage. The theater season that begins this fall will consist of four comedies whose names are not all available yet.

Sophy and her husband, Jack Hinton, curator of decorative arts at PMA, have two school-aged sons. For more information, visit allenslane.org. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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