Inspiration: SAMA’s ‘Artists of the 21st Century’ exhibit on display in Loretto

This piece was created by RaeAnn Claycomb, a senior at Claysburg-Kimmel High School.

Tissue paper, ceramics, print making, paintings, self-portraits and photographs — all of these mediums and more are represented at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto’s current show, “Artists of the 21st Century.”

The SAMA-Loretto exhibit features more than 220 pieces of art created by students from area schools. The annual showcase is held in conjunction with National Youth Art Month and the State Arts-in-Education Month. Schools that participate in SAMA’s Arts-in-Education or Artist-in-Residence program are eligible to display student works.

This is the 19th year for the exhibition.

“It is a big to-do; we love having the students’ work at the museum. It’s a good show and encompasses what the students work on. It’s a great way to share what the local schools are doing,” said Jessica Campbell, SAMA’s education coordinator.

Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School has participated in the exhibit for the past 10 years. Art teachers Jana Sidler and Anna Shrift sent about 20 pieces of student created work to this year’s show.

Bishop Guilfoyle students from seventh through 12th grades are represented at the show, from underclassmen to advanced placement art classes.

“Our students’ mediums range from colored pencils, to pen and ink, to multimedia, to acrylics,” Sidler said.

Jennifer Kruise, a teacher at Claysburg-Kimmel Junior-Senior High School, sent about 10 pieces of student created artwork to the exhibit, from ninth through 12th grades. Some of the work includes book sculptures, where the students incorporated used books to create pieces of art.

“The books ended up working out very well. It took the students about six weeks and a lot of time and effort. They had to pick a subject that coincided with the book. Many of them cut and illustrated the books, used papier-mache and added lights,” she said.

Kruise also sent plaster masks that her students constructed.

“This is the year of recycling,” she said. “The students used old computers, electronic pieces, phones, microwaves and cell phones. They smashed them, painted and glued them on to make the masks look robotic and futuristic.”

In addition to Bishop Guilfoyle and Claysburg-Kimmel, local schools from Bedford, Blair, Cambria and Somerset counties are represented at the Loretto show. They include Altoona Area High School and Altoona Area Junior High School; Blacklick Valley Elementary Center and Junior-Senior High School; Cambria Heights elementary and high schools; East Side Elementary; Forest Hills elementary, middle and high schools; Jackson Elementary; Northern Cambria middle and high schools; Penn Cambria primary, intermediate, middle and high schools; Portage Area elementary and high schools; Saint Benedict Catholic School; and St. Michael School.

Work from schools in Fayette and Westmoreland counties are concurrently being shown at SAMA-Ligonier Valley.

The SAMA-Loretto show will run through April 8. A reception will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 4. The reception is open to the public and is free to attend, but the museum suggests a donation of $1 per person in support of the exhibition.

Kruise and Sidler encourage their students to attend the show. Both agree that it gives students the chance to understand different ideas and mediums and to see what other kids their age are doing in school.

The exhibition also provides students with a greater appreciation for the arts and helps to build their self-esteem.

“It’s great to have a museum of this caliber in our area. The students will get to see nationally acclaimed work on the walls along with their own work. It really kicks them up a notch in terms of self-worth,” Sidler said.

Campbell wants the exhibit to encourage students’ confidence. She also hopes it helps them realize the importance of appreciating the arts. “We always want to inspire them to come back or to create more art and to continue to support the arts,” she said.


If you go

What: SAMA-Loretto’s “Artists of the 21st Century” exhibit

When: Through April 8. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Reception will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. on March 4.

Where: The museum is located on the Saint Francis University campus

Admission: Free

More information: Visit or call 472-3920