Banner day as Hempfield students’ art goes on display at New Stanton Turnpike plaza
Six silk banners swayed softly Thursday inside the New Stanton Turnpike Service Plaza as 13 Hempfield Area High School students who created them looked up in admiration.
The banners celebrate Westmoreland County’s landscape and history as well as the creative minds behind them.
“I was so proud of this group,” said Susan Novak, teaching artist who worked with the students. “I love that they really fought for their own vision.”
The banners were unveiled inside the Hempfield plaza which sees about 800,000 travelers annually. It was part of a collaboration between the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission that aims at adding student artwork to each service plaza.
“The goal of this program is to provide our travelers … a look inside what is just a couple miles off our system,” said Mark Compton, commission chief executive officer.
Through PA Commonwealth Threads, Hempfield juniors and seniors learned about silk painting techniques and dyeing methods to achieve their designs. The students worked for a few months on their projects during their art studio portfolio class and during their free time and after school, visual arts teacher Emily Daignault said.
In addition to the art experience, they learned about working professionally for a client.
“I like that they’re kind of kinetic, they move in the space and they flow,” Daignault said while looking at the banners. “It was really rewarding to them on so many levels as artists.”
Seniors Cambrie Short and Kayla Bruno created a whitetail deer with purple mountains and a setting sun.
“Working with Miss Novak gave us the experience of effectively collaborating with others, understanding working for a client and expanding our abilities with art,” Short said.
The piece “endured a lot of changes” throughout the process, said senior Carly Miller. She and fellow senior Rachael Hollar created a banner with several different landscapes, including a waterfall.
“It was super-intimidating to be tackling something completely new on such a large scale,” Hollar said.
The banner created by seniors Megan Ambrose and Megan VanScoyoc depicts a singer onstage at The Palace Theatre in Greensburg.
“It was such a great opportunity to be able to create a piece for our community,” VanScoyoc said.
It was a “unique and challenging project” to create an airplane atop a green background with Latrobe native and golf legend Arnold Palmer’s signature, said Odessa Gastor, senior. She and Haley Brown, a junior, were the artists.
“We’ve been able to grow our time management skills and be able to do a piece of art, keeping in mind the wants of a client,” Gastor said.
A banner created by seniors Maria Morozowich and Alexandra Kowalsky depicts a bicyclist, the Westmoreland courthouse, Ligonier Diamond and the former Jeannette Glass plant.
“No other turnpike exit’s going to have these decorations,” Morozowich said.
St. Clair Park
History and nature combined in a banner featuring St. Clair Park in Greensburg. Seniors Alexandria Peters and Danielle Voit and junior Cate Boyle scrapped a few ideas before settling on leaves that look like stained glass.
“This silk piece has not only expanded my interests as an art student but has shown me the true importance of working with others and trying something new,” Voit said.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .