Cordell
Cordell

A Wrightsville-area gallery is planning an exhibit to honor the life of a former artist and teacher and to kick off a scholarship fund in her name for aspiring artists in the Eastern York School District.

The idea for the exhibit and scholarship came from Phyllis Koster and her husband, Robert Oughton, who first met Christina Cordell while she was a high school art teacher at Eastern York High School. The couple opened their gallery, Weavings, Ink., in 2008 and met Cordell when she worked with the couple to set up a two-week exhibit at the gallery for advanced art students from the high school.

The teacher advocated for her students and encouraged them to continue growing as artists, including entering their work in what became an annual gallery exhibit.

"She was a really talented artist, but she was a really gifted teacher also," Koster said.

Remembering an artist: Cordell, who taught for 30 years, died March 22 after dealing with cancer, just a few years after retiring from the school district, Koster said. She was 62.

The gallery exhibit will display many of Cordell's works, including some weavings, paintings and ceramic pieces, Koster said. It will also include some quirky pieces of Cordell's work, such as the Snookums she created for holiday craft shows each year from socks and gloves. The show opens Friday with an opening reception from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.


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Koster and her husband also approached the Eastern district to investigate setting up a scholarship in Cordell's name. The goal is to have a scholarship in time for a graduating senior this year interested in an art-related field, Koster added.

Scholarship details: The scholarship will be run through the district's Dollars for Scholars organization, Koster said, with the exhibit of Cordell's work as a launch point for fundraising efforts.

Money that comes into the fund earmarked for the art scholarship will be tallied and then the couple, with Cordell's family members' input, will be able to set up parameters for the scholarship, said Christine Miller, a board member for the district's Dollars for Scholars fund.

The scholarship could be just for one year, or a repeating award for multiple years, Miller said.

"It depends on the donations that come in," Miller said.

Unfinished work: Koster said many of Cordell's projects went unfinished at the time of her death, including a grouping of ceramic tiles she'd created without arranging them into a finished mosaic.

For the gallery exhibit, Koster asked one of Cordell's former students, Mariah Hertz, to arrange the tiles for display.

Hertz, a senior at York College studying graphic design with a minor in fine arts, said she had Cordell as a teacher for about six art classes while she was a student at Eastern York.

"She really would go out of her way for her art students," Hertz said.

In many ways, Cordell pushed Hertz while in high school, and the two stayed in touch after Hertz graduated, she said. "To be able to finish what she started was really neat," Hertz said.

Hertz never settled on just one medium and her own upcoming exhibit, to follow Cordell's at Weavings, Ink., is a medley of robots, photography and mixed collages, Hertz said.

The exhibit of Cordell's work will be at the gallery from Friday until Saturday, Sept, 6. Weavings, Ink. is located at 208 Hellam St. in Wrightsville. Typical gallery hours are Fridays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Donations to the scholarship fund can be mailed to the attention of the Eastern York Dollars for Scholars at P.O. Box 95 in Wrightsville, 17368. "Chris Cordell Memorial" should be included on the memo line.

— Reach Nikelle Snader at nsnader@yorkdispatch.com.