Student work at A-K consortium exemplifies freedom art provides

| Saturday, March 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Their vision, their thoughts, their personalities are expressed in a multitude of ways and in a rainbow of hues.

When Alle-Kiski Valley high-school students talk about the essence of what their art means to them, though, they invariably touch upon the theme of “freedom” and the “freeing” experience that exploring their creativity affords them.

The end result, once again, is found in a stroll through the more than 500 two- and three- dimensional works, including paintings, drawings, sculpture and jewelry in the gallery at Penn State, New Kensington, at the annual Alle-Kiski Arts Consortium exhibit.

The efforts of students from Valley, Kiski, Highlands and Deer Lakes can be seen daily through March 30. An artist reception is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. March 25, followed by a free performing-arts showcase from 7 to 9 p.m. in the campus Forum Theatre.

“The definition of art is expanding. The boundaries among disciplines and mediums need and continue to blur,” says Prissy Pakulski, visual-arts educator at Valley and exhibit coordinator.

“The consortium show really demonstrates how the arts can wrap around and enhance other subjects, representing how a school can combine efforts among the educators to teach the whole child in unique and different ways,” she says.

Louise Harvilla, visual-arts teacher at Highlands Middle School, agrees. “There is an amazing amount of talent in our schools. Our students are gifted and, often, it is the art teacher who makes this discovery, something no pencil-and-paper test can gauge accurately,” she says.

“It is still exciting and so gratifying to see young people gain so much confidence and maturity within themselves,” says Kiski art teacher Jack Jewart, who is in his 33rd year of teaching. “So many students over the years have expressed how art class gave them a safe haven in school and an opportunity to express their feelings and ideas in a way that they can't in other classes. For some, if it wasn't for art class, they wouldn't have even come to school.”

For many students, the consortium exhibit is their first real opportunity of presenting their work in a professional art environment.

“I love being in the show and am sad that this will be my last year,” says Valley senior Celina Cecchetti, whose zodiac wheel combines her love of astrology and art.

“Art gives me the satisfaction of being proud to be unique,” she says.

Her classmate, junior Karissa O'Sullivan, offers similar enthusiasm.

“In art, there literally are no restrictions from your imagination to your hands,” she says.

She believes her painting portraying a girl staring down two paths is reflective of her life.

Valley senior Melissa Anderson hopes viewers can escape to paradise in their mind when they see her tropical mosaic of a guitar.

Cassie Debor, a Highlands sophomore who has entered a scratch board of a giraffe, enjoys that, in art, “you can be as creative as you want; in other classes, you can't do that.”

Highlands junior Emily Anuszek hopes to become an art therapist. “I want to help others with art the way art has helped me through a lot,” she says.

This is the first consortium experience for Courtney Lubick, a senior at Deer Lakes. “I am honored to show my work here. The more people that view it, the greater chance I have to impact somebody,” she says.

Her life-size cardboard creation of a homeless man is meant to prompt discussion about this social issue. “I hope it sparks an emotion inside of people.”

Deer Lakes senior Ella Miller, who explores the expression “My Lips Are Sealed,” in her mixed-media piece, says she enjoys the freedom art gives to express thoughts that can be difficult to articulate through words.

Hannah Blinn, a Deer Lakes senior, using cardboard, paint and feathers, offers silent commentary on the hurt that can be caused by cyber bullying and abuse of social media.

“Metamorphosis,” the mixed-media piece by Hannah Gozzard, also a senior at the school, addresses suicide awareness. “I hope people look at this piece and realize how big of a problem suicide is in today's society,” she says.

Mohamed Al-Haddad, a Deer Lakes junior, walks on the considerably lighter side in fashioning a platter depicting a parrot. “This exhibit shows the different ways art can be represented,” he says. “I hope people will see that it is OK to experiment with ideas.”

Kiski senior Darrah Resnick appreciates that sentiment: “Sometimes, art is the only way I can express myself and be totally who I am.” Kyle Cernicky, another Kiski senior, loves the ”endless possibilities” open to an artist.

Kiski sophomore Megan McKeever dedicates her painting, featuring sign language and a variety of shades of purple and orange, to her late volleyball coach Jaime Moran.

“She was an inspiration to all of the lives that she touched, and I will always admire her strength and courage,” McKeever says. Orange and purple are the colors of the Fluorescent Angels, the organization that supported Moran's fight against cancer.

“Every year, there are so many beautiful works of art at this show,” says Deer Lakes junior Lizzy Mann. “It is amazing how talented the kids of this generation are.”

Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.


Show commenting policy