Accomplished artist to give commencement address at Penn State Hazleton

Creative professional and educator Mary Veronica Sweeney will serve as the commencement speaker at Penn State Hazleton. Commencement is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, May 5 in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium.

Sweeney is the founder and director of Power City Arts, a social enterprise designed to empower young creative entrepreneurs at the intersection of traditional arts and new digital media. This summer, Sweeney will guide a class of Luzerne County Community College students to design a large mural dedicated to the idea of “The Hazleton Way,” a celebration of neighborliness as described by Chicago Cubs manager and Hazleton native Joe Maddon.

Sweeney graduated from Bishop Hafey High School and received an associate degree in letters, arts and sciences from Penn State Hazleton. She furthered her studio training and certification in art education at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She earned a master of fine arts degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the oldest art academy in the United States, and was the first woman in the school’s 194-year history to teach the renowned Thomas Eakins anatomy drawing curriculum in the original rotunda gallery.

She is dedicated to mentoring while maintaining a working studio. During a decade in Brooklyn, New York, her creative commissions included lectures and images both ​large and small ​for ​organizations such as ​PBS, Scholastic, The Interdependence Project, Random House, the Rubin Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. ​Her grants and awards include ​two​ Stobart Foundation​ grants​,​ two Leeway Foundation grants and many arts residencies, including at the Vermont Studio ​Center​ and a Ballinglen Arts master class in County Mayo, Ireland. Sweeney’s​ prints, ​portraiture and landscapes are in numerous private and public collections. In 2006, she was invited to participate in the U.S. State Department Arts-in-Embassies program. Sweeney’s work was featured in the 2006 traveling exhibition and book “Visions of the Susquehanna: 250 Years of Painting by American Masters.”​

In 2015, Sweeney spent a year with movie director David Lynch as the next step toward visual storytelling and creative engagement with the world. She is editing her first documentary, “Whispering Infinity,” about the role of meditation in creativity, which includes conversations with actors Jim Carrey and Los Angeles painter Don Bachardy, among many others.

Sweeney teaches at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in Boston, where she also earned a master of education degree in technology, innovation and education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.