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IUP’s ArtsPath promotes art, both in and out of school

January 13, 2013

Pictured is Jeff Wacker (left), assistant director of ArtsPath, and Hank Knerr, director of the Lively Arts at the IUP Indiana campus. They are sitting on a wooden bench that was created by sculptor Mike Stadler, who is one of many artists who participates in ArtsPath. (Photo by Destiny Pifer/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — When it comes to promoting the arts, both in and out of the classroom, Indiana University of Pennsylvania remains quite dedicated.

It currently offers art education through ArtsPath, the Lively Arts outreach program made possible through the AIE Partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

ArtsPath was formed twelve years ago and is a regional and professional arts program that brings in professional artists from outside the school.

These artists come in and perform a variety of different arts in a classroom setting.

These programs are called artist residencies, and the minimum number of days that an artist can work in the school is 10.

Some of the artists are skilled professionals, while others are amateurs from the community.

They have either educational or self-taught
backgrounds that allow them to be placed in the classroom, as well as the community.

Those who come in and participate in the residency cover a broad spectrum: sculptors, fiber artists, metal artists, woodworkers, musical artists, painters, writers, poets, photographers and performers.

The classroom setting can either be one-on-one or consist of up to 30 students, and the artist who comes in must be a working artist who is able to communicate well with those who are willing to learn.

The cost of a 10-day residency is $4,000, with ArtsPath providing 30 percent of the fee. The longer the residency lasts, the greater the percentage of fees covered will be.

"This program is not just for the IUP students, as there are opportunities for the community to come in as well," said Hank Knerr, director of the Lively Arts.

The program is always looking to engage with the community, and anyone who wants to come to the programs is welcome to do so.

Both Lively Arts and ArtsPath work to integrate art into what is being done in the classroom. The artists who participate work not only with the students, but with the teachers as well.

"They show art forms that can help the students make a better connection" said Jeff Wacker, assistant director of ArtsPath.

The Lively Arts program of fine arts has three basic areas — teaching production; performance services; and arts and education (ArtsPath).

The artist must try to incorporate all three areas into what he or she is teaching.

Three-hundred artists across the state currently participate in the programs, and those involved must be quite interested in this kind of work, as they must go through a lot to get on the Pennsylvania state roster.

IUP handles all clearances that artists must obtain in order to work in the schools, and once they are placed on the roster, they are able to go wherever needed.

"If Punxsy campus wants a fiber artist, then I can check the state
roster and bring in someone from any region whose name is on it," said Wacker.

One artist who has remained quite dedicated to the program is Mike Stadler, a sculptor who is an active professional.

Stadler's involvement began as a student worker when ArtPaths first began. Now, he has stepped in as an educator of his craft and helps a new generation of students learn and create. Some of his work can be seen at the IUP-Punxsy campus.

As for the Punxsy area schools and campus, the programs already have been brought into the elementary schools and local high schools.

Ray Bissel, former dean of the IUP-Punxsy campus, pushed hard to get art on the Punxsy campus and was instrumental in getting it started so that first-year college students could experience it.

Twelve years ago, both Knerr and Wacker worked with Punxsutawney Area Principal Joyce Cooper and were able to bring programs to West End Elementary School and the former Mary A. Wilson School.

"We would love to do more in Punxsutawney, but funding is an issue" said Knerr.

Right now, they have a writing residency at the Indiana Middle School, where students are currently learning how to write for the theater.

The students will have the chance to be a part of the ovation series, which features touring artists from around the world.

In one instance, Walnut Street Theatre will be putting on "Around the World in 80 days" at Fisher Auditorium in Indiana on Feb. 12 at 8 p.m.
"This program could continue to grow, but we are limited with funding" said Knerr, adding that they are trying to do as much as they did five years ago, but with less funding.

Receiving EITC funding has helped out a great deal, but more funds are always needed.

The areas in which the organizations provide artist residencies are Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana and Jefferson counties, as well as to the DuBois Area School District.

Art residencies don't have to take place only in schools, but also can be done at senior centers, nursing homes, civic organizations and day care centers.

For more information call (724) 357-2787 or email artspath-info@iup.edu.

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