Two senior studio art majors at Indiana University of Pennsylvania were chosen as the recipients of the 2020 Art in the Arboretum competition, designed to provide student artists with an opportunity to create art for IUP's Allegheny Arboretum.

Model of “Birds of a Tree”

Model of “Birds of a Tree”

David Salinas, from Zelienople, and West, from Pittsburgh, created a design called “Birds of a Tree,” which was chosen by the Art in the Arboretum Selection Committee as the winning proposal. Both were students in Sean Derry's public art class, which works with the Art in the Arboretum project.

Established in 2000, the Allegheny Arboretum encompasses the entire 374 acres of the IUP campus, including a 150-acre woodland. In 2005, the Allegheny Arboretum officially became part of the university. It is overseen by the Allegheny Arboretum Board, which provides guidance in meeting the arboretum's goals and objectives.

The mission of the Allegheny Arboretum is to provide a learning environment both on and off campus that seeks to advance global understanding of temperate forests worldwide, cultivate an aesthetic appreciation for regional flora of the Allegheny Plateau, and demonstrate practical applications of woody plant materials to modify and mitigate local environmental conditions.

Salinas is the son of Lee Ann and Carlos Salinas of Zelie Drive, Zelienople. He is a 2015 graduate of the Seneca Valley School District. He participated in the university's U-SOAR summer research program. West, the child of Cindy and Larry West of Pittsburgh, is a 2016 graduate of Keystone Oaks High School.

Both Salinas and West are members of the IUP Sculpture Support System, an IUP program designed to provide a more in-depth professional experience for highly motivated students through social practice projects that engage community members in a range of art-making processes.

Jerry Pickering, artists West and David Salinas, and Sean Derry 737

From left, Dr. Jerry Pickering, chair of the Allegheny Arboretum Board of Directors; artists West and David Salinas; IUP art and design faculty member Sean Derry

In submitting their entry for the competition, the students proposed that the sculpture would be sited in the Arboretum's Confluence Discovery Park, a former industrial area and floodplain multipurpose undeveloped space surrounded by the central business district and IUP campus, connecting the southern part of the IUP Robertshaw building and the Indiana County Hoodlebug trail.

Long-range plans for the Allegheny Arboretum calls for Confluence Discovery Park to become a healthy and beautiful landscape with restored streams, new ponds, riparian forests, mesic meadow, and naturalized plantings. Its trails, boardwalks, pavilions, and visitor center will support education and exploration for both study and tourism.

“Birds of a Tree” was proposed by the artists to be sited on the northeast grassy corner of the parking lot right off Wayne Avenue, designed to complement the ongoing efforts to revitalize the Wayne Avenue corridor, making the existing parking lot more inviting, and contributing a contemporary element to the proposed renovation of the parking lot and pedestrian bridge.

The goal of “Birds of a Tree” is to create a focal point for visitors to the site, according to the artists' statement, noting that “complementing the organic revitalization of this space is a key goal of the artwork.”

“Birds of a Tree” is composed of four vertical sculptures presented on posts along with a central vertical piece. The birds will be constructed of wood and built in layers, presented in an orbital fashion around a steel plate cut out in the form of an oak tree. Each bird will be painted with an environmentally friendly Milk Paint, according to the common bird species around Indiana, the Blue Jay,

The artists said that “the goal of this piece is to remind visitors about the multiple different bird species that are fostered under one house, the Arboretum, and also the cycles of restoration and rebirth,” noting that the significance of the rebirth is reminding people of the history of the land and its rebirth as Confluence Discovery Park.

“Birds of a Tree” is also designed as an educational tool, introducing visitors into the site and showing what birds are found around the Arboretum and in the region.

“The selection committee really liked the blending of art and education proposed in ‘Birds of a Tree,' as well as the theme of rebirth,” Jerry Pickering, chairman of the Allegheny Arboretum Board of Directors, said. “It would be a great complement to Confluence Discovery Park.”

In 2015, Ray Kinter, a 1967 (bachelor's degree) and 1968 (master's degree) graduate of IUP, donated funding to establish the Art in the Arboretum program, including the honorarium provided to the winning artists. Kinter, who lives in Colorado, is originally from Emporium.

The first Art in the Arboretum program sculpture, “Legacy Marker,” created by Jennifer Blalock, Anthony Bookhammer, and Bill Brown, was selected in 2016 and installed in front of IUP's Sprowls Hall in 2018.

The Allegheny Arboretum holds Level 1 Accreditation from the the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and the Morton Arboretum. The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta at various levels of development, capacity, and professionalism.

The Allegheny Arboretum at IUP is also recognized as an accredited arboretum in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world's arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.

Originally accredited in 2014, the Allegheny Arboretum was ranked the tenth most beautiful college arboretum by Best College Reviews in 2015.