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Posted on Wednesday, December 13, 2023

More than 400 students from Westminster College and the Wilmington Area School District participated in the recent Environmental Art in the Community showcase, which culminated in a series of events and an awards ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 3.

The showcase highlighted artwork in a variety of formats from students in third grade through college that was displayed in various business locations on Market Street in New Wilmington. On Sunday, Dec. 3, community members were led on an art walk by John Petruzzi, an art instructor at Westminster College, who described the various forms of art and their inspiration and commented on the technical aspects of the art.

The final location of the art walk, Shenango on the Green, hosted a reception and creative writing reading as part of the event’s activities. Dr. Robert Craven, assistant professor of English, and students from his Writing the Natural World course, organized the creative writing reading. Students read select work and community members were also invited to share their writing.

Jeff Wachter, pianist from the Westminster School of Music, gave a solo performance during a reception and guests received refreshments and copies of “Reading the Natural World,” a new literary arts booklet compiling student and community writings.

Craven, who facilitated the reading, stated that he found the well-attended event to be a major success.

“Attendees of all ages got to hear poems, stories and creative essays doing important work—the work of depicting the physical world, narrating encounters with nonhuman life and grappling with questions of environmental philosophy. I’m glad to have been part of it,” he said.

The art showcase was on display in the community for a month, and during that time, community members had the opportunity to vote for their favorites in five categories. A sixth award was presented to students in the Writing the Natural World course for their efforts to engage the community in the creative writing and reading process.

Award winners included:

Community Favorite 3-D Artwork: “The River Walk” by WASD fifth graders Gigi Copper and Grace Harrison from Sara Telesz’ classroom

Community Favorite Photo/Photo Collage/Photo Essay: “A Walk-Through Westminster Athletics” by Westminster first-year students Jacob Mull, Dayton Maul and Dylan Hanna. Mull is a biology major from Apollo, Pa., Maul is an early childhood education major from Summhill, Pa., and Hanna is an exploratory major from Dubois, Pa.

Community Favorite Creative Writing: “Blackout Poetry” by WASD students in Gianna Vastano’s Honors English 9 class

Community Favorite 2-D Artwork/Poster: “Wondering in the Winter” by Westminster first-year nursing major Faith Jones of Volant, Pa.

Community Favorite Watercolor: “Collection of Moths” by Westminster senior Alaina Kutsch, a neuroscience and psychology double major from Home, Pa.

Community Collaboration: Westminster students in the Writing the Natural World course Taylor Jones, Abigail Macher, Sydney Rensel, Zoe Rowland, Chloe Smith, Max Smith and Ashley Tarter. Jones is a sophomore English and education major from Trafford, Pa.; Macher is a senior English major from Imperial, Pa.; Rensel is a junior English major from Evans City, Pa.; Rowland is a junior biology major from Monaca, Pa.; Chloe Smith is a sophomore English major and honors student from Brookville, Pa.; Max Smith is a sophomore English and creative media production major from Bethel Park, Pa.; and Tarter is a senior English and political science double major from Alliance, Ohio.

Several local businesses sponsored the awards with gift cards including Pizza Joe’s, New Wilmington Nutrition, Small Circle Used Bookstore, Mona’s Chocolates, Gilliland’s Market and Pulse Coffee Company. Shenango on the Green provided refreshments for the event.

The Environmental Art in the Community event is part of the Beyond the Quad art series which provides students the opportunity to connect with the community through the arts. Beyond the Quad is supported by Westminster College alumni Bob and Debby Caleskie Jewell, both 1980 graduates, and coordinated by the Center for Professional Development and Community Engagement (PDCE) at Westminster College.

For more information about this and other community engagement events, contact the PDCE office at