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A BIG STICK OF CONFIDENCE - Scent-based Installation Opens at Esther Klein Gallery

PHILADELPHIA - (August 26, 2014) - The human nose can detect a trillion different odors, some of which will be featured at A Big Stick of Confidence, a scent-based installation by Canadian artist Clara Ursitti at the University City Science Center’s Esther Klein Gallery at 3600 Market Street in Philadelphia. The exhibit, which is jointly presented by the Science Center and the Monell Chemical Senses Center, will run September 4 – October 18, 2014.

A presentation by the artist, as well as special guest speaker, olfactory scientist Pamela Dalton, will be held at Quorum at the Science Center, 3711 Market Street, 8th Floor, Philadelphia, on September 4th from 5:30-6:30pm. Immediately following the talk, an opening reception will be held at the gallery from 6:30-8:30pm. Throughout the exhibit, the gallery will be open from 9am – 5pm, Monday through Saturday.

Ursitti is intentionally mysterious about the exhibit. She prefers that gallery goers experience A Big Stick of Confidence without pre-conceived notions about the exhibit. “It’s like a psychology experiment,” she explains. “You wouldn’t tell the volunteer subject what is going to happen to them before they go into the experiment as it colors their experience and ruins the experiment!”

A Big Stick of Confidence responds to the unique space of the Esther Klein Gallery, and is informed by the time Ursitti spent over the past year at the Monell Center, where she worked with world-renowned olfactory scientists Pamela Dalton and George Preti. Ursitti has been working with scent since the early 1990’s, and is recognized as a pioneer in the area, creating pungent installations and interventions. She is interested in non-verbal (chemical) communication, the non-visual senses, speculative fiction and memory. Her work often incorporates situation and context.

Ursitti has exhibited widely internationally and has been the recipient of numerous awards including IASPIS (International Artist Studio Programme in Sweden); Scottish Arts Council Award; Wellcome Sci-Art Grant; Helen Chadwick Fellowship at the British School at Rome and the Ruskin School, University of Oxford. She is presently the recipient of a Canada Council Long Term Artist Grant, and was included in the survey exhibition Generation: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland. She is currently based in Glasgow, Scotland where she is a lecturer at Glasgow School of Art. For more information about Clara Ursitti, visit

Pamela Dalton explores how humans perceive and respond to odors. Her research investigates how odor perceptions are influenced by expectations and past experience. She also studies the impact of workplace exposure to odors and irritants on health and asks whether sensitive subpopulations, such as asthmatics, are at greater risk from such exposures. Dalton received her PhD from New York University in Experimental Psychology and her MPH from Drexel University. She holds the title of Member at the Monell Center.

About the Science Center
The University City Science Center is a dynamic hub for innovation, entrepreneurship and technology development in the Greater Philadelphia region. It provides business incubation, programming, lab and office facilities, and support services for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and growing and established companies. The Science Center was the first, and remains the largest, urban research park in the United States. Since it was founded in 1963, graduate organizations and current residents of the University City Science Center’s Port business incubators have created more than 15,000 jobs that remain in the Greater Philadelphia region today and contribute more than $9 billion to the regional economy annually. For more information about the Science Center, go to

About the Monell Center
The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For 46 years, Monell has advanced scientific understanding of the mechanisms and functions of taste and smell to benefit human health and well-being. Using an interdisciplinary approach, scientists collaborate in the programmatic areas of sensation and perception; neuroscience and molecular biology; environmental and occupational health; nutrition and appetite; health and well-being; development, aging, and regeneration; and chemical ecology and communication. For more information about Monell, visit

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Kristen Fitch

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