IUP Students Design and Create Governor's Award for the Arts

Posted on 10/25/2017 2:33:08 PM

Group of IUP wood working students create Governor's Award for the ArtsWhen Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf presents the 2017 Governor’s Awards for the Arts on October 26 in Lancaster, Indiana University of Pennsylvania will be part of all six presentations.

Students in IUP’s Wood Center collaboratively designed and crafted the award objects, under the supervision of fall 2017 Windgate Artist-in-Residence John Hallett and center director and assistant professor of woodworking, BA Harrington.

This is the first time in the history of the awards program that students have both developed and created the design for the awards.

The project is part of the Advanced Woodworking class taught by Hallett, which includes 10 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Jenn Milkey working on part of the Governor's Award for the ArtsAs the host of the 2014 Governor’s Arts awards, and with support from Myron Tomb of Indiana, the 2014 Arts Leadership and Service award winner, and Michael Hood, dean of the College of Fine Arts, IUP was invited to produce the awards for the 2017 awards program.

“It was an honor to be chosen to host the 2014 Governor’s Arts Award and an honor, again, to have our students produce the awards for the 2017 ceremony,” Hood said. “Myron and I have been connected to the Governor’s Arts Awards for many years, and this partnership has been vital to the success of our college, including funding for the museum and for the ArtsPath program, which offers a very positive contribution to the arts in our community.”

Students in the class were invited to develop an idea and present it in the form of sketches, three-dimensional models and a design concept statement. Hallett and Harrington evaluated the proposals based on the strength of the design, the feasibility of fabricating the object, and if the production of the piece could involve the entire class.

Student John Miller, who retired from IUP in 2017 after 37 years of work with technology support, had the winning proposal. The class, in addition to Miller, includes Samson Andanje, of East Norriton; Nicholas Gemberling, of Mifflinburg; Jenn Milkey, of Allison Park; Katie Ott, of Mechanicsburg; Micaela Rodas, of East Stroudsburg; Jonathan Simkins, of Collegeville; Tyler Stanton, of Meadville; Samuel Tyson, of Sewickly;  and Jesse Wolfson, of Frenchtown, New Jersey.

Pennsylvania Governor's Award for the Arts designed by IUP studentsThe piece includes the artist’s interpretation of the Liberty Bell in walnut, a dark wood, and the Pennsylvania keystone in maple, a light wood.

Miller’s statement about the piece is as follows:

“Artistic expression is the keystone of liberty. Without liberty, there can be no artistic expression. Without artistic expression, there is no liberty. The interdependence of these ideals is expressed when the Pennsylvania Keystone is merged with Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell. The forms are co-dependent; each supports the other; one does not exist without the other. An icon of United States independence, the Liberty Bell was created to ‘Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof.’  The Liberty Bell resides in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. The Artistic Expression, which is the Governor’s Award for the Arts, demonstrates that artistic expression and liberty are inexorably entwined.”

Miller, originally from Somerset, has two bachelor’s degrees from IUP. He is taking courses in the program because of his personal interest in wood turning.

“A lot of people put their work and time and creativity in the project,” Miller said. “Without the group’s work, nothing would have happened. BA (Harrington) has created an inclusive working environment, and it is a pleasure to work with the people associated with the IUP Wood Center. It is a community of artists.”

The class began production of the pieces in October. Because each is handmade, are all unique.

“We were honored to be chosen for this, and it’s been a fantastic project for the students—in fact, for everyone in the Wood Center including John and me,” Harrington said. “We had to figure out the best way of fabrication, and we came up with a production line so students got an idea of what that meant, how to divide up the jobs and how to collaborate with a very tight deadline.”

Harrington will personally deliver the awards and will attend the awards ceremony.

Hallett, who was born and raised in Adelaide, Australia, recently earned a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and has also been a resident of the International Turning Exchange at the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia.  

IUP and the Wood Center are recognized in the awards program.

The Wood Center at IUP exists to enhance the woodworking area of the Department of Art in the College of Fine Arts. It was established in 2004 with the purchase of a portable bandsaw mill used to cut lumber from campus trees that were felled as part of the Residential Revival project. This was the first act of the Center’s “Harvest-to-Use” initiative that helped the university receive LEED certification for its new dormitories.

Local logs from downed trees continue to be milled into lumber for use in student and campus projects. The Center embraces the rich Northern Appalachian heritage of abundant natural resources, a solid work ethic, and a hand-crafted aesthetic. Its programming encourages a strong connection to place, a local identity and the fostering of embodied knowledge and skill.

In May 2016, Harrington and students in her spring 2016 advanced woodworking class produced “the Sutton Bench,” a bench reflecting the architecture of IUP’s central administration building, Sutton Hall. Working in groups, the students created six prototypes of benches that were judged by 1973 IUP graduate Blane Dessy, who donated the funds for the project and chose the winning “Sutton Bench” that includes a laser engraved image of the Oak Grove.

Photo Information: photo with female student in the foreground:

Jenn Milkey, from Allison Park, works on assembling a part of the project

Group Photo: From left: Nicholas Gemberling, of Mifflinburg; Jesse Wolfson, of Frenchtown, New Jersey; Jenn Milkey, of Allison Park; Samuel Tyson, of Sewickly; Jonathan Simkins, of Collegeville; Tyler Stanton, of Meadville; Micaela Rodas, of East Stroudsburg; Katie Ott, of Mechanicsburg; and John Miller, of Indiana, who created the design for the project. In the forefront, John Hallett, fall 2017 Windgate Artist-in-Residence, working at a woodturning lathe. Student missing from photo: Samson Andanje, of East Norriton.