(Posted March 20, 2006)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Nothing says "home" more than a photo or painting hung in a place of honor in a house, and a Juniata College art class is trying to bring art back into the homes of residents of the Gulf Coast communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

A class of 14 Juniata students in the college's "Creative Arts and Healing" class are organizing the collection, storage and distribution of donated artworks, which will eventually be transported to the Gulf Coast in summer or fall to local libraries, which will handle the logistics of offering artworks to residents of the stricken areas.

The Creative Arts and healing course is an art therapy course that asks students to create art, music, poetry or dance designed to help individuals deal with illness, trauma or other problems.

"People who receive the art will have an opportunity to express themselves by selecting and viewing art, which is a valuable human experience," says Rhonda Stern, lecturer in art at Juniata and a licensed art therapist in State College, Pa. "They will be able to personalize their space and feel more connected to the world beyond the Gulf Coast."

Stern says donations of any type of two-dimensional artwork will be accepted, although she says artworks must be framed.

The students, together with Nancy Siegel, assistant professor of art and director of the Juniata Museum of Art, also are organizing a Community Donation Day. Those who wish to donate can drop off artwork at the Juniata College Museum of Art in the main lobby from 9 a.m. to noon, Thursday, March 30, and from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 1. "It can be anything from a framed photo poster from WalMart to a $300 fine art print," she says of the effort.

For more information, please call Stern at (814) 861-4577.

Stern and the students are collaborating with the Central Pennsylvania Katrina Reconstruction Task Force, a State College-based organization that has organized other charitable programs to the Gulf Coast, most notably the donations of books from State College's Schlow Library.

All donated artworks will be stored in the Juniata College Museum of Art until representatives from the task force make a trip to three Gulf Coast cities in late summer or early fall. Perry Babb, chair of Doing Our Part, which oversees the Pennsylvania relief projects in central Pennsylvania, will distribute the donated artworks to individuals and libraries on the Gulf Coast.

"Each student in the class is in charge of different aspects of the project," explains Stern. "This is the first time that our class has done a collaborative service-learning project."

Stern has already contacted local artists to participate in the project. Altoona artist and illustrator Joe Servello has donated a woodcut print depicting settlers traveling to Altoona in the 19th century to start a new life. "The Juniata art students will donate some of their individual works, although some students will wait to donate until their courses are completed," Stern says.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.