JEFFREY HORVATH Published: June 4, 2014
The Howland Preserve, 669 acres of protected forest land west of Tunkhannock, played host on Saturday to a Tunkhannock Area Middle School Art Show, the theme of which was “Howland Preserve.”
There were about 200 unique pieces of artwork in the show, which featured works done by Tunkhannock students in grades 5, 6, 7, and 8. The show was organized by TAMS art teacher Ali Woods Wilson in the hopes of drawing attention to the natural beauty of the Howland Preserve. Woods and her husband are the founders of the “Friends of the Howland Preserve,” an organization of about 25 people who are determined to raise awareness of the property.
“There is so much natural beauty out here,” Wilson noted, “and because the Howland Preserve is off the beaten path very few people realize the beauty that exists right in their backyard.”
All of the pieces in the art show were inspired either by visiting the preserve itself or by studying visuals and photographs of the Howland Preserve.
Wilson said she hopes that paintings have inspired her students to appreciate the natural beauty of the area. This is also what she hopes visitors will have taken away from the show.
Tunkhannock eighth grader Brianna Mason, who had several pieces of art in the show, helped to actualize Wilson’s goal. “I love nature and depicting it through art,” said Mason, “and I loved being a part of this project.”
Much of the art in the show was a product of an “Artist-in-Residence” program, explains Debbie Donowski, another TAMS art teacher. This year’s “Artist-in-Residence” was Earl Lehman, a local landscape artist who has worked with students in the classroom for more than 25 years.
The “Artist-in-Residence” program, which offers one-on-one instruction for students with a professional artist, is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts.
The larger pieces in the show were done by student members of a “core group” who met with Lehman for an hour before school during a 4-week instructional program.
These 4x8 masterpieces, along with many other paintings done by Tunkhannock art students detailing the Howland Preserve’s trees and waters, coated the walls of the Preserve’s barn.
Eighth graders Leah Rome and Angela Colbenson both agreed that having art in the show was “pretty cool.”
“My art has never been in a show before,” said Rome, “and we like being able to express ourselves and our love for nature through art.”
Lehman, himself, shared the girls’ spirit.
“Nature is paramount,” he said. “We come from it and live in it. It is a natural subject and the kids understand that.”
He added, “They are like open doors, and they are always excited to learn.”
As a landscape artist, Lehman said this particular project was perfect for him, and together with Wilson’s vision and the student’s hard work, the show was a rousing success.
In the long term, Wilson hopes that they can maintain the Howland Preserve as a space that the Tunkhannock community can enjoy for years to come. The “Friends of the Howland Preserve” hope to put in hiking trails in the future, and encourage others to utilize the barn which hosted the art show, which was recently furnished with a new roof.
“I am so happy to see this all come together,” Wilson said. “To see our students forge a connection between our area’s natural beauty and their own artistic creation is a wonderful thing.”
Photo Gallery of Students Art
Friends of Howland Preserve
The Friends of Howland Preserve along with The North Branch Land Trust are resurrecting and enhancing this great preserve but will need help from our local stewards of the land. Please like our page so you can receive updates and happenings at Howland!