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Panther Valley Jr/Sr High School Students’ artwork unveiled at Turnpike plaza

The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Executive Director Karl Blischke and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton announced the unveiling of artwork located at the Hickory Run Service Plaza Sunday.

Panther Valley Jr/Sr High School students designed and created the installation. The project is part of Art Sparks, a PCA and PTC partnership to bring student-created artwork to service plazas across the PTC’s 550-mile system. The partners released a video of the announcement.

“It’s amazing how art brings people together,” says PTC CEO Mark Compton. “This project proves how young people can use their imaginations, work together and create something beautiful that motivates others.”

Titled “Wool Gardens,” the installation is composed of sculptural felted panels that create the appearance of textile ‘living’ walls.

Decorative wooden ornaments representing the surrounding community embellish the woolen installation, which students designed and created with a laser cutter provided by the Da Vinci Science Center, based in Allentown.

Coordinated through the PCA’s regional Arts in Education partner, Allentown Art Museum, students worked under the guidance of teaching artist Mallory Zondag and Panther Valley Jr/Sr High School art teacher Kim Gallagher to design and create the artwork.

“This project gave students the opportunity to further develop a variety of skills and attributes that will prove beneficial both to their academic careers and the paths they embark upon post-graduation,” said Karl Blischke, PCA executive director.

“Creativity, problem solving, and teamwork are just some of these. I applaud their dedication to this project and thank the many project partners who helped make this a tremendous success.”

This is the eighth project created through Art Sparks. Art Sparks pairs K-12 art students and teaching artists from the PCA’s Arts in Education resident artist roster with the goal to install a local, student-created artwork in every service plaza, system-wide, over the next five-to-eight years.

Schools near each respective service plaza host 20-day residencies led by a local PCA teaching artist. Students work with the artist and members of the community to create artwork that reflects the region.