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Artwork Co-Created by Students from Two Lehigh County High Schools Installed at the Allentown Service Plaza on the Pennsylvania Turnpike


Cetronia, PA – Today, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) unveiled newly installed student artwork at the Allentown Service Plaza. Students from Emmaus High School and Building 21 High School created the piece, which is a painted mural featuring various points of interest in the Lehigh Valley region. This is the thirteenth artwork created in conjunction with Art Sparks, a PCA and PTC partnership to bring student-created, locally relevant artwork to service plazas across the PTC's more than 550-mile system.

"This beautiful installation illustrates the value of investing in the artistic lives and education of our commonwealth's students," said Karl Blischke, PCA Executive Director. "Through creative problem solving, teamwork, and development of a vision, the arts provide students today with a launchpad for success tomorrow in any number of career paths."

"It's amazing how art brings people together," said Mark Compton, PTC CEO. "This project continues to prove how young people can use their imaginations, work together and create something beautiful that motivates others." 

Coordinated through ArtsQuest, the PCA's regional Arts in Education partner organization, students worked with rostered teaching artist, Matt Halm, and Allentown School District art teachers, Jim Novak, Melissa Rouston, and George Nonnemacher, and Emmaus High School art teacher, Katie Pfenninger, to design and create a mural representing historical and well-known points of interest in the Lehigh Valley region. The artwork depicts items selected by the students based on community, historic and aesthetic merit. The artwork is now permanently on view at the Allentown Service Plaza on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

"Through partnerships like PCA Artist Residency and Art Sparks, we are able to provide unique experiences to students," said Joanne Garcia, ArtsQuest Education Coordinator/AIE-PA Council on the Arts Program Coordinator, Region 5. "Matt Halm, PCA Rostered Artist, did a fantastic job collaborating with students from Emmaus High School, National Art Honors Society and the 21st Century afterschool program at Building 21 High School, to create a piece representative of our region for all to see as they stop at the Allentown Service Plaza. ArtsQuest is grateful for partnerships like these where we can continue to expand our Education and Outreach programs."

Art Sparks pairs K-12 art students and teaching artists from the PCA's Arts in Education roster with the goal of installing 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 teaching artist residencies led by a local PCA teaching artist. Students work with a teaching artist and members of the community to create artwork that reflects the region.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, please visit the website or follow PCA on Facebook.

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