Student artwork covers walls of Harmar Township Municipal Building
A mural painted at the Harmar Township Municipal Building on Wednesday may double as a time capsule — one everyone can see.
Allegheny Valley students who put paint to the entryway wall could some day come back with their own children, point to the mural and tell them the story of how they did that, said Michael Hillery, a former township supervisor.
The story could include amplifying music from a cellphone with the help of a plastic cup, breaking for a pizza lunch and just enjoying a day out of school.
“It's turning out really well,” said Katie Adler, a senior from Springdale, one of five students working on the mural. “I'm happy I'm part of this.”
The mural joins prints of student art displayed in the building and professionally produced prints that adorn the supervisors' meeting room.
The artwork was part of a roughly $20,000 renovation of the building, which included interior and exterior painting, new carpet and reupholstered chairs.
Hillery, who left office as supervisor at the end of last year, said the project that started nearly three years ago was meant to improve and liven up the municipal building, which he said was barren and in embarrassing condition.
“We decided we needed to change that,” he said.
The original idea was for students to paint murals in the meeting room. But when it was determined that would be too big of a task, displaying framed student art was chosen instead.
Eight prints are hung in the hall, and they are routinely changed.
Adler said an oil painting of her playing a guitar she calls “The Song” helped get her into Seton Hill University, where she plans to study art education.
“It feels amazing knowing that my painting made it down here,” she said.
The school was asked to have the students paint the mural in the building's entryway, Springdale Junior-Senior High School art teacher Chelsey Rosselle said.
Working on it with Adler were Liz Wallender, Rachel Simcic, Cassidy Armstrong and Erin Ross. Gavin Carrigan and Jane Breyak had helped with the design back at school, Rosselle said.
The project fits with Rosselle's desire to get the students' artwork out of the bowels of the school to be seen throughout the school and community.
“The community doesn't get to see the great things they do every day,” she said. “They're so talented and they're such great kids. We want to share that with everyone.”
Painted in acrylic, the mural is a tree with its roots arranged to spell “Harmar Township.”
“They tried to hide it a little bit so you look at it a little more,” Rosselle said.
Above ground, the tree is split into four sections, each representing a different season — flowers in the spring; full leaves and butterflies in the summer; colored leaves and an owl in the fall; and a snowman and bare branches in the winter.
As the mural was taking shape, Hillery was impressed.
“That's really going to make an impact as people walk through the door,” Hillery said.
The prints in the meeting room account for about $4,000 of the renovation project's cost, Hillery said.
The cost included paying for the rights to use the images, Hillery said. Golden frames are actually parts of the prints, which are completely flat.
The meeting room is dominated by an 8-by-12 foot image of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on a back wall. Other smaller images include the drafting of the Declaration, the Bill of Rights and the iconic image of George Washington crossing the Delaware.
At the front of the room are portraits of Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.
In the room where Harmar's government takes place, Hillery said he wanted the images to remind people of how America got to where it is today.
“I think too much of it's forgotten,” he said. “We take too much for granted. There was a lot of struggles for us to get the rights we have today.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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