UPMC Altoona, Altoona Area School District representatives, teachers and Altoona Area High School National Art Honor Society students Monday unveiled a series of railroad-themed murals designed to enhance the hospital’s area at Station Medical Center.
The art’s purpose is to provide pure visual enjoyment to uplift spirits, stimulate conversation, and recall the rich history of Altoona and Blair County for patients, their family members and passers-by, according to the National Art Honor Society students.
The three-canvas mural is based on photographs taken by Dave Seidel, a local photographer.
Friends of UPMC Altoona served as the artists’ benefactor, donating the funds necessary to buy raw materials.
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“It is our pleasure to play a part in the development of the arts in the Altoona area,” said Peggy Cawthern, president of Friends of UPMC Altoona. “We are once again pleased that we were able to contribute the materials to the art students of AAHS and again we see their talents unfold. Our community is truly blessed to have such talented young men and women who, with the guidance of their teachers, have produced an impressive piece of artwork for all of our community to enjoy.
“Here we see our youth invest themselves into their community through artistic vision.”
Friends of UPMC Altoona raises funds to benefit patients and employees. This is the second consecutive year for the collaboration between Friends and art students. A year ago, the students donated nine canvases depicting different Altoona neighborhoods, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Baker Mansion, Blair County Courthouse, The Mishler Theatre, and the Altoona Railroader’s Museum, which now hang in public areas of the hospital.
Again this year, Altoona Area High School art instructors and National Art Honor Society advisors Sharon Wall, Ron Bowser and Laura Kozdra supervised the students.
National Art Honor Society student and hospital volunteer Brandi Wilt drew the images onto the canvases over several months, investing about 20 hours in the sketches. Then, other honor society students completed the works. Brandi volunteers in the hospital gift shop.
“These paintings are truly a group project,” Sharon Wall said. “National Art Honor Society members have worked on them over the school year, after school, when they had extra time in class and in conjunction with the community service program at the high school.
“For the students working on the designs, it was like putting a puzzle together. It took concentration, accuracy and painstaking work with the details. Most of the time, the students had to focus on one small area of shapes at a time. I applaud the commitment of these students to create such accurate, yet creative, scenes from Altoona’s railroad heritage.”
Students who worked on the project are: Casandra Banks, Chandra Banks, Jaley Blackie, Vanessa Blanchard, Ayla Conrad, Destiny Eames, Kathryn Elder, Orianna Green, Amber Gordon, Brooklyn Haugh, Alyssa Hughes, Molly Malone, Stephanie Mock, Madeline Quinn, Delaney Sheetz, Kristen Stoltenberg, Olivia Walter, Avery Wilkes, and Brandi Wilt.
Here are some comments by the students as part of written reflections.
Casandra Banks: “I am hoping people visiting (the outpatient center) will be able to enjoy these artworks. I think older people will enjoy them most because they are of trains.”
Chandra Banks: “I hope this mural will look nice in the (outpatient center) and will let people have something to look at while waiting or visiting. I think people of all ages will like this artwork, but especially the younger people because of the bold bright colors that we used.”
Destiny Eames: “I hope this mural will be a relief for the patients at (the outpatient center), who may be worried over medical issues or appointments. I think any age group will enjoy this work. The contrasting colors will catch the eyes of children, and the images of the trains are Altoona’s foundation.”
Amber Gordon: “I hope this project will continue to make Blair County a more beautiful place. Filling the community with art makes it a happier and brighter place to live. I believe the elderly will like this artwork the most because they are the ones who appreciate Altoona’s railroad history the most, because they were alive to see the city at its peak.”
Kirsten Stoltenberg: “I hope this mural will bring both happiness and entertainment to those viewing it, entertainment because it’s brightly colored and something interesting to look at; happiness because those who enjoy trains will like it and they will bring back memories. Maybe it will even help people to realize their surroundings.”
Brandi Wilt: “This has been a good way for me as well as the other art students to give back to the community. The paintings will provide patients with a nice visual while waiting for their appointments and the railroad theme truly represents the history of Altoona.”
A world-renowned health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of accountable, cost-effective, patient-centered care. It provides more than $887 million a year in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 62,000 employees, 22 hospitals, 400 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, a nearly 2.3-million-member health insurance division, and international and commercial operations. Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC ranks No. 10 in the prestigious U.S. News & World Report annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals — and No. 1 in Pennsylvania. For more information, go to UPMC.com.