Valley High School students showcase their yearlong art efforts at People's Library

| Sunday, April 27, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

A yearlong foray into the world of stained glass culminates this month at People's Library in New Kensington.

The library is hosting an exhibit of Valley High School art students' stained glass. The exhibit is open to the public during the library's regular hours, 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., through April 30. The exhibit is one of several at the library that showcases Valley's art students' work.

“We're very grateful to be an avenue to show that folks have a lot of talent here, and if this is one way to do it, we're happy to show it,” says David Hrivnak, People's Library director.

The exhibit encompasses the entire library and features more than 100 pieces of student art.

This is the second year the library has exhibited student work on a grand scale, according to Hrivnak.

“I said it would be awesome to kind of take over the library and make it part library, part art exhibit,” he says.

The stained-glass show is one that hits home with Valley High School art teacher Prissy Pakulski.

“My personal artistic interest is creating glass windows and expressions using glass, solder and foil,” she says.

The students who chose this year to follow in her footsteps put their all into the projects.

“It is difficult,” Pakulski says of working in glass. “It has its own hazards and is all time-consuming. The expressions take really long, like months, and to challenge students to use this medium is incredible.”

Library volunteer Patti Giordano, who is behind the exhibit's organization on the library's end, says the glass show deserves attention.

“Those students work really, really hard. (Prissy) is a wonderful teacher, she extends herself.

“These kids get really excited about showing their work in public, and the library has been a great venue for it.”

Students are grateful for having such a welcoming venue for their work.

Sophomore Laura O'Neil has three window pieces in the exhibit, one with a flower, one with a cat and one with the letter O.

“It's exciting,” she says. “My art hasn't been anywhere else before. It's cool.”

Art 1 student Jacob Swope, also a sophomore, has enjoyed his first year of working with glass.

His contribution includes a window piece with “Stars Wars” quirky sage Yoda and others featuring a Celtic knot and Pink Floyd's “Dark Side of the Moon” album cover.

His favorite part of stained glass? “Just seeing it all together and seeing the pieces fit perfectly,” he says. “It's just fun.”

Also working with stained glass for the first time is Kenny Mink. The junior has Pittsburgh sports-theme pieces in the show and also created a mosaic with bluebirds and a cross.

He says he has enjoyed exploring the art of glass.

“I will be working on it until I get absolutely tired of it — and that's going to be awhile.”

Ryan Moya, another junior, is looking forward to visiting the library's exhibit with his family.

“I think it's pretty cool that people can go and see my work,” he says. His pieces include a cigar box with a mosaic bowl and a mosaic four-leaf clover.

While working on mosaics that celebrate three college programs — the University of Florida, and Ohio State and Waynesburg universities — junior Ryan Vantine found that the materials differ from others, like paint and pastels.

“It's just like you have to be more patient with glass than other mediums,” he says.

Sophomore Nia Bash has stained-glass windows and a dimensional vase in the exhibit.

She said she likes seeing how everything comes together with stained glass and how pretty the different pieces look together.

Because stained glass is offered outside of Valley's regular art programs, Bash says their teacher deserves props.

“I give a big thanks to Miss P (Pakulski), because if she weren't here, we wouldn't be doing stained glass.”

From the sounds of it, for Pakulski, the chance to share her love of glass with students is thanks enough.

“It is so enriching and moving to me to have students buy into this medium,” she says.

Julie E. Martin is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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