Riverview students providing spark of art for turnpike's Oakmont Service Plaza
Riverview students are nearly finished with a large mural they are constructing for the Oakmont Service Plaza on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
The school was chosen in September to construct a mosaic mural that is 9 feet by 18 feet to be put up at the plaza.
The project is part of Art Sparks, an effort by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts to bring art to 17 service plazas across the state.
“It was a collaborated effort on both ends, just to get local schools teamed with art and actually have it displayed for all turnpike travelers to see,” said Renee Vid Colborn, public information manager for the commission.
The commission funds supply costs, which has been about $5,000 per service plaza. The arts council and tourism groups also help to cover costs.
Laura Jean McLaughlin, who has worked as a full-time clay artist for 18 years in Pittsburgh, helped the Riverview students with the mural.
“The whole collaborative thing has been awesome. … It's been really fun for me,” McLaughlin said.
The Riverview School District's project will be the second to be completed.
“It's pretty cool we got to work with this great artist from the area. It's a pretty big deal,” Riverview art teacher Glenn Garrison said. Around 200 people showed up at the high school cafeteria to help assemble the mosaic recently.
The finished mosaic will be unveiled at the service plaza Nov. 9. Garrison and McLaughlin are confident they will meet the deadline.
“It was great — we had a very positive turnout. We had elementary kids, kids from the high school and parents. We made a lot of progress,” Garrison said.
Garrison said about 80 students from seventh through 12th grade started the project last month.
They decided the mosaic should depict the Pittsburgh region by including significant historical figures like Roberto Clemente, Andy Warhol and Fred Rogers.
One student, Taylor Knapp, 17, who plans to study culinary arts after high school, said she hopes the artwork captures the “vibe” of Pittsburgh.
“We've done a lot of things that are Pittsburgh-themed. It shows off really happy and memorable things that happened in Pittsburgh,” she said.