On Monday, May 15, 2023, Twin Valley High School (TVHS) Advanced Ceramics students unveiled their “Pieces of Pennsylvania” Mural in the Peter J. Camiel Turnpike Service Plaza. The Pennsylvania Council of Arts, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, created Art Sparks, a program that places student-created murals in Turnpike Service Plazas to bring unexpected beauty and excitement to drivers’ travels, while giving young artists a unique creative opportunity. Twin Valley High School students were selected for this opportunity and have been working on the mural for three months.
Working collaboratively, students designed and created a series of ceramic mosaics. The five panels highlight places of natural and historic significance around the Peter J. Camiel Service Plaza. Sites depicted include Hopewell Furnace National Park, French Creek State Park, Daniel Boone Homestead, and Crow’s Nest Preserve. Students first researched the natural elements and buildings found at these sites and created handmade titles from what they learned. Students then filled in the panels with pieces of commercial tile that they carefully cut and arranged. Students were led by local Pennsylvania Council on the Arts teaching artist, Jessica Liddell, and Twin Valley High School Ceramics Teacher, Heather McCord.
Heather McCord, TVHS Ceramics Teacher, shares, “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to work alongside a professional artist, researching the area they have grown up in and discovering what makes our area unique. The research was complex, starting with what we know and then diving deeper to unveil less familiar elements. The students then took their research and created a collaborative tile mural that visually represented natural and historical elements in our area. The result was nothing less than outstanding for everyone involved.”
This project has given Twin Valley High School students firsthand experience designing and fabricating a piece of public art. Students involved in the project include Cassidy Walk, Morgan Braksator, Jenna Cowden, Jeffrey DelRossi, Madison Ferrara, Jessica Hall, Caroline Lowes, Leila Medina, Aidan Wanner, Paige Clipsham, Michael Haak, Leia Culbert, Madchen Drake, Emily Hatcher, Kelly Holloran, Susannah North, Melanie Ortega-Cluff, Katherine Rimby, Olivia Rimby, Albany Schultz, Eric Timins, Madeline Trojan, Tabitha Donahue, Courtney Jaworski, Teva Jones, and Katy Stoutenger.