Freeport art students check into hospital for month-long exhibit
Art speaks loudly, powerfully, often beautifully, without words.
It expresses feelings in a visual way, reminds Freeport High School junior Allison Breski. “Others can look at the piece and hopefully enjoy it,” she adds.
“Art imitates life and life isn’t black and white but many times gray,” adds Freeport senior Mattie Welteroth. “A lot of my art I leave up to the interpretation of the viewer. I would hope it would bring some form of happiness but if it doesn’t, that is OK too.”
And it doesn’t really matter where it is viewed, she suggests, referencing the fact that she and her fellow art students at Freeport will showcase their talents in February in a non-traditional gallery, the lobby of Allegheny Valley Hospital, Natrona Heights.
The hospital’s long-running monthly rotating “Art in the Valley” exhibit is Feb. 1-28.
“I think it challenges the idea that art exhibits are only held in fancy art galleries with rich people and five-star catering,” says Welteroth, who one days hopes to be an art teacher. “The truth is art can be appreciated for being beautiful and thought-provoking anywhere, even a hospital.”
“I feel that artwork can be appreciated by everyone and it can cheer anyone up,” she says. “In a hospital setting, many people are going through rough treatments or recovering from a recent procedure, and I would like to think that seeing art could cheer these people up in some way.”
Heather Fortuna, Freeport High art teacher, praises the hospital setting as a chance for the public outside of the students’ immediate community to view their work.
“That is really exciting for them. They enjoy sharing their talents with the world. They truly enjoy creating art, and it’s wonderful that they get to share it with the public,” she says.
The art varies widely in genre and style.
“I have some extraordinary students this school year. I think that people will find their work extremely impressive,” says Fortuna.
Breski is represented with a scratch art portrait of a roaring cheetah, to which she applied ink in certain sections to add color.
“I hope that people can appreciate the time I took to complete this piece and the attention to detail I added. It was meant to look realistic and visually appealing,” she says.
Breski hopes to become a veterinarian “ I am hoping to make a difference in many animals’ lives and impact the world in some way,” she says.
Beatles’ fan Mattie Welteroth’s “All You Need Is Love” is a drawing of Paul McCartney’s eyes with flowers and symbols done, she says, “with an everyday pencil.” “The finished product turned into one of the best projects I’ve done in a while,” she says.
Senior Josh Keller can relate to that enthusiasm.
“I love the freedom that art has and the potential and challenge that it imposes on me to create new things that I can be proud of,” he says. “I love creating things that come from my head and that can possibly inspire others because I know that the art of others inspires me immensely.”
He also welcomes the hospital setting.
“I think that art can help people cope who are dealing with illness and see things from other perspectives,” says Keller, who hopes to go into graphic arts.
Brianna Tola, a sophomore hoping for a career in art, says she finds art to be “a calming mechanism” most of the time for her.
Freedom of expression
“I’m able to express myself however I want with it,” she explains.
She has entered three pastels. “I hope that people feel something when they look at my work, whether it’s just the gratitude of seeing a piece of art or something deeper,” she says.
Sophomore Stephanie Meyer also cites the creative freedom art provides as a major appeal for her.
“You can make what you want, taking ideas from your head and putting them into a physical form to share with others,” she says. She hopes she can use her creative skills one day as web designer or teacher.
When people look at her work she hopes they feel inspired to create something of their own. And, along the way, she hopes it brings “comfort or joy,” especially at the hospital.
Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.