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Amy LeFever of Middletown discusses her untitled ceramic piece, which won first prize in craft, at the opening of Art of the State.

Amy LeFever of Middletown discusses her untitled ceramic piece, which won first prize in craft, at the opening of Art of the State.
Photo, PHMC

Art of the State 2019

On June 23, 2019, Pennsylvania’s finest artists mingled with guests at the opening of Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2019 at The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. The 52nd annual juried exhibition, presented by the museum in association with the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation, PHMC’s nonprofit partner, showcased 110 works of art by 103 artists from 35 counties across the commonwealth. At the opening, 23 artists received awards in five categories: painting, photography, craft, sculpture and work on paper. The State Museum selected two Purchase Awards and presented the William D. Davis Memorial Award for Drawing. In addition, The State Museum’s Art Docents Corp. presented its Art Docent Choice Award.


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Most of the award winners who attended the opening discussed their pieces, offering insight into some of the show’s most complex works. Artist Geoffrey Beadle traveled more than seven hours from his home in Erie to accept the first prize in work on paper for his Samuel Illuminated. “This portrait is of my 5-year-old son,” he said. “I try to draw each of my children at least once a year, almost as a documentary process. Documenting family is really my focus.”

East Petersburg artist Denny Bond’s DIY, which won first prize in painting, represents a different take on the classic self-portrait. “It’s about the aging process. I want them to see the painting, pause, think about what it’s about, and hopefully enjoy it,” he said.

Greeting visitors as they entered the exhibition was the untitled piece that won first prize in craft. “I made a mold of one tile and, through replication, I produced multiples to create different kinds of patterns to show relationships within the piece,” said the artist, Amy LeFever of Middletown.

Diane Pepe of Philadelphia spoke about the inspiration behind her Installation: Selective Processes of Memory, which won first prize in sculpture. “For the past several years, I’ve been engaged in research about the scientific process of memory as a stimulus for creative works,” she said. “This piece is a culmination of the research that I’ve done over the years. I hope that my piece will show people that the sciences and the arts can work together, that ideas can merge.”


2019 Scholars in Residence

The Pennsylvania State Archives and its cosponsor, the Pennsylvania Historical Association, have completed the second year of the reactivated Scholars in Residence Program, providing support for up to four weeks of full-time research and study in the manuscript and state record collections maintained by the archives. To select scholars for the program, the archives accepts applications from professionals, graduate students, educators, writers, filmmakers and others for in-depth explorations of its collections. This year’s scholars were Mary B. Schreiner, a professor of education at Alvernia University in Reading, Berks County, and Marcy Ladson, an instructor of history at the
University of Pittsburgh.

Schreiner focused her research on Pennhurst State School and Hospital, a former institution for mentally and physically disabled people located in Spring City, Chester County. At the archives, Schreiner discovered files and documents that told the stories of Pennhurst patients, some of whom eventually went on to live at other Pennsylvania institutions. Compared to the institution’s brochures that “painted a very rosy picture of what was going on,” she said the documents in the archives tell a more complete history of Pennhurst and what its patients experienced. “I think history is about people. These are citizens of our state who have never had their voices heard in terms of how they lived their daily lives and what they experienced. By being able to share their stories, I’d like to give them a voice.” Schreiner said she plans to compile her research, along with interviews she recently conducted with 10 people who lived at Pennhurst, into an audiobook or an online blog.

Ladson, an environmental historian who recently earned her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, continued research she began with her dissertation on the history of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, with a focus on the industry from the 1970s through the early 1990s, using vital documents from the archives. She will eventually write a book on the subject. “I very much wanted to spend a dedicated amount of time at this archive. It’s the gift of time that is really the most valuable,” she said. “With the type of research that I want to do, there isn’t a better archive to complete that work.”


Sean Adkins is social media manager for PHMC.