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Artists "Alive" in Consortium

| Sunday, March 6, 2005

When it comes to the creative process, getting lost is a good thing, Deer Lakes junior Becca Cutright says.

"I like to be able to sit down and get lost in my art, just to be able to relax and forget about everything else going on in the world," she says.

Emily Hric, a junior at Springdale High School, is attracted to the freedom of expression. "In art, there are no rules," she says. "You can do whatever you want."

Megan Pelican, a senior at Valley High School, says she just wants to "bring back a good memory" to those who view her paintings.

Just like the mediums in which they are involved, the students' reasons for doing what they do and what they hope to convey with the results is its own palette of variety.

It all comes together again in the Alle-Kiski Valley Arts Consortium's annual "Arts Alive" show, which is under way in the art gallery at Penn State, New Kensington Campus, Upper Burrell, through March 26.

A free meet-the-artists' reception will be from 5 to 7 p.m. March 14 in the gallery.

Springdale, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Highlands, Kiski Area and Valley, member high schools of the consortium, have been invited to hang their work. This year, the show has been set up in salon style, stretching from floor to ceiling, allowing more entries from each school. "Expanding it is a great idea," says Jack Jewart, Kiski Area art instructor. "This permits an even greater experience to be enjoyed by more students and their families, as well as giving a more diversified feel to what is being done throughout our area in the schools."

It allows for even more impressive entries, says Jay Swigart, a Springdale High art teacher.

It is a credit to the consortium that it is reflecting gallery viewing trends, says Prissy Pakulski, an art teacher at Valley. "It is a much more open way to display work," she says.

Having an opportunity to show their art provides positive reinforcement for students, says Christy Hedman, a teacher at Deer Lakes and an organizer of the show. "This boosts their confidence. The students gain so much by seeing people react to their work and hearing positive comments," she says. "It gives them the real feel of having artwork in a gallery, a completely different context than the classroom or on their bedroom walls."

Cutright, who is entering oil pastel and colored-pencil renderings, appreciates being able to see what her peers are doing. "I get to see the different techniques," she says.

Emily Hric, represented with a portrait that employs circles painted upon each other to mimic the look of an oil painting, hopes her work connects with people. "I would like it to evoke an emotion," she says.

Megan Pelican, who was going for nostalgia with her acrylic of a train, can relate. "The most important thing about being an artist is to touch people, let them enjoy your work," she says.

Self-expression is a large part of the appeal of art to Valley sophomore Sara Cropcho, who has entered a charcoal and pastel of a wolf.

Bill Molnor, a Valley senior, is pleased to be in the show for the first time. He is represented with superheroes rendered with ink and markers.

Deer Lakes senior Ryan Bonazza, who has a blue marble vase in the exhibit, likes to surprise himself in the creative process. "I like being able to sit down at a wheel and not know what is going to unfold. It is awesome to be able to make something out of a mistake," he says of his work in clay.

Mary Miller, a Deer Lakes senior whose "Blocked Up-Chevy" is an acrylic on canvas board, loves the noncompetitive, low-key nature of the consortium exhibit.

"It gives me a chance to display what I love to do most without worrying about winning anything," she says.

Melissa Cherry, another Deer Lakes senior, says she is excited about being represented with two mixed-media pieces.

"Being able to put your thoughts and emotions into something that can be created is what I like about art," she says.

"Arts Alive" continues to be a celebration of that sentiment.

Additional Information:

If you go

  • What: 'Arts Alive' exhibit.

  • When: Through March 26. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays; noon to 5 p.m. weekends.

  • Where: Art gallery, Penn State, New Kensington Campus, Upper Burrell.

  • Cost: Free.

  • Details: 724-334-6063; www.nk.psu.edu; Arts Consortium: http://www.akac.net

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