Altoona art students create paintings for hospital

Some Altoona Area High School art students recently gave back to their community through the use of their paint brushes.

Twenty-seven of the school’s National Art Honor Society and advanced art students created murals for display in Altoona Regional Health System’s Outpatient Center third floor lobby and waiting area near the Non-Invasive Laboratory and Medical Outpatient Services East unit.

The artwork was revealed during a short, informal ceremony Tuesday.

“It’s a great way for them to show the community their talents and to give back and spruce up a part of the hospital that gets a lot of foot traffic,” said art teacher Laura Kozdra.

“The National Art Honor Society students came up with the initial idea of participating in a community service project and enthusiastically ran with it. We provided guidance,” art teacher Sharon Wall said in a press release. “It’s been a meaningful project for all, and we hope the patients and visitors of Altoona Regional find enjoyment in the murals.”

Students wanted to give, and the hospital wanted to receive it, art teacher Ron Bowser said.

“It’s really good for them to give back and kind of get art out there, especially with the way that it’s been cut and things like that in schools today,” he said. “It’s really important for them to see what these kids do.”

One of the murals is done in a high-contrast style reminiscent of work created by famed artist Andy Warhol.

The painting is of “high points in Blair County,” such as the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum, the Mishler Theatre and the county courthouse located in Hollidays-burg,” said Lori Shelow, the unit’s administrative director.

The other two murals are of area historical homes in Altoona.

Kozdra said deciding what the students would paint was a collaborative effort among those involved at the hospital and school that settled on “historical homes as more of a traditional mural and then the high-contrast scenes of Blair County as sort of a way to go a little bit more modern but still represent the community.”

While one of the historical home murals is hanging just down the hall from the high-contrast mural, the other one will be displayed at the Station Medical Center, said Shelow.

The Friends of Altoona Regional group, which raises funds to benefit patients and employees, donated the money to buy the raw materials to create the murals.

“I am so tickled. It’s wonderful,” president Peggy Cawthern said. “We’re very happy to be a part of that project … and to have a collaboration with high school students even, how happy is that.”

Recent graduates Joshua Williams, 17, Ethan Knepp, 17, and Anne Keating, 18, worked on the high-contrast painting.

Williams, who will attend Ohio University to study English, said the paintings “add a lot of color and they’ll really let people feel more cheery while they’re waiting.”

Knepp, who will attend Penn State Altoona as a business management major, said he enjoyed being a part of the project. He plans to take a couple art classes in college, he said.

“It feels really good to be able to contribute to the community,” said Keating, who will attend Rhode Island School of Design for industrial design. “I really love the murals that are downtown, and I really love being able to see art in the community through whatever medium … this was a cool way that we could contribute.”

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.