PHMC Highlights presents stories and information about PHMC programs, events, exhibits and activities.

Art of the State 2015

Twenty-one artists received awards for their work at The State Museum of Pennsylvania on June 28 at the opening for this year’s Art of the State. The annual juried exhibition, now in its 48th year, is cosponsored by the museum and Jump Street, a nonprofit organization in Harrisburg. Judges honored exhibitors in five categories: craft, painting, photography, sculpture and work on paper.

Artists who attended the opening met with guests to explain their works. Allen Capriotti of Altoona, Blair County, disclosed that he channeled his frustration over his wife’s reports of workplace misconduct toward women in his oil-on-canvas composition Risky Business, which won first prize for painting. The work is striking in its use of a scantily clad woman who appears six times in the painting juggling different office duties around fully dressed businessmen. An innocent child situated in the middle of the activity, the artist related, represents how learned behavior is often passed on to the next generation.

Mike Korsak of Pittsburgh won first prize in the craft category for his untitled cabinet. Inspired by the work of a fellow furniture maker, Korsak built the cabinet with a front that has a striking off-centered alignment of a drawer above a vertical panel of the door, both in light-toned wood, offsetting the darker wood of the rest of the piece. “In my work, I’m always thinking about visual interest as well as detail, scale and proportion,” Korsak said. “I want people to see the detail. I want people to have to get up and look close to really see the design.”

Jo Margolis arrived at her vision for Cloud of Unknowing, awarded second prize in the work on paper category, while traveling by airplane over Patagonia in South America. The Wellsville, York County, artist peered down from the window and was immediately taken aback by the cloud cover below. “It was such a beautiful pattern,” she said. “I want people to look at this work and feel all the subtleties of the range of shapes. I want them to be sensitive to every nuance.”


First Pennsylvanians

A new book, First Pennsylvanians: The Archaeology of Native Americans in Pennsylvania, was published in July by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Based on the most recent archaeological discoveries and unpublished reports, the 256-page book is the first comprehensive review of Native American archaeology in Pennsylvania for a general readership.

Coauthored by State Museum of Pennsylvania Senior Curator of Archaeology Kurt W. Carr and archaeologist Roger W. Moeller, the book sets the scene for the cultural evolution of Native Americans who lived in Pennsylvania’s Delaware, Susquehanna and Ohio river basins from the Paleoindian period of 16,000 years ago to the time of first contact with Europeans in 1500-1700. The volume includes contributions from other noted archaeologists, full-color photographs of artifacts, artists’ renderings of lifestyles, timelines, tables and maps. First-person narratives bring each period to life.

“We wanted to write something for the general public,” Carr said. “In terms of the audience, I think it’s the interested public, certainly amateur archaeologists and teachers. It could be a college reader. I’ve already heard from professors who have said that they plan to give this book to their students for use in college classes.”

Readers should come away with a solid understanding of Native American culture and why it changed over time, Carr said. “Humans change because they have to adjust to their surroundings. Over the past 16,000 years, people exploited the land in different ways to ensure that they were getting enough calories from the environment.”

Moeller said the book fills a need for those who know little about Pennsylvania archaeology but are interested in learning about the field. “This book will help amateur archaeologists figure out who the people were who used the tools or artifacts that they find,” Moeller said. “We give them enough information to satisfy a basic interest, but we don’t answer all questions. Our hope is that they will walk away wanting to know more.”

First Pennsylvanians is available for purchase at


Sean Adkins is an information specialist for PHMC. Look for his updates at Pennsylvania Trails of History on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.