Students answer challenge; exhibiting at Harrisburg museum

At the beginning of the spring semester, Penn State Harrisburg instructor in art Paul Manlove issued a challenge to the 25 students in his graphic design class.

He instructed them to take an image of Abraham Lincoln and recreate it in one of three historical art movements – cubism, surrealism, or photorealism. The results of their artistic efforts will be on public display at The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg beginning with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on May 14.

In celebration of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, the exhibit entitled “Lincoln Comes to Harrisburg: Abraham Lincoln and the National Civil War Museum” will feature “dozens of art works created by the talented students,” Manlove says.

Describing the challenge as a “teaching tool to introduce students to the art movements,” Manlove explains, “What I try to do is create a connection with something students are familiar with (in this case Lincoln). They become more interested when they can make a connection. And it expands learning beyond the traditional lecture. This ‘process of doing’ can’t be accomplished in a lecture; it encourages critical thinking.”

He further points out, “I can teach students in the graphic design class the same way I teach students to paint in a studio. I introduce information and give students the flexibility of personally interpreting. This forces and allows critical thinking and a better understanding. The process immediately engages them.”

One of the student exhibitors, criminal justice major Travis Stotelmyer from Halifax, points out that he had no art classes in high school and graphic design with Manlove is only his second in college, but describes the challenge as “fun.” He says the art assignment permitted him to “use a skill that was a hobby of mine – digital manipulation of images via Adobe-based computer graphics editing programs.”

He adds, “Taking inspiration from previous art movements in history, I am trying to recreate something that although weathered, honorable, and timeless as Abraham Lincoln becomes something that will appeal to the audience at the Civil War Museum.”

Communications major from Boiling Springs Seth Goodyear says, “When Mr. Manlove first told the class about his plan for our projects I was a little nervous. I had never had any of my art shown. However, after I got into the project I loved doing it. It was the highlight of my day to sit and work on it.”

Logan Swartz, a structural design and construction engineering technology major, comments, “Although I am in the engineering field, I find that preparing for an art exhibit is a new, interesting challenge and experience. Professor Manlove left the development our images fairly open ended, merely suggesting historical movements to base our illustrations on. The result was that the creativity and unique ideas of the class were able to show through in the individuality of each project."

Dave Patterson, CEO of the museum, adds, “We are proud and privileged to be partnering with Penn State Harrisburg on this project. Our mission to bring history to life will be enhanced by the creativity and talent of these artists. It’s through outreach projects like this exhibit that history is kept vibrant and meaningful in our community,”

Manlove concludes, “Abraham Lincoln remains one of the most compelling and beloved figures in American history and our student artists have developed themes which play out in a variety of media, from paintings to prints to computer graphics, all of which will be available for public viewing.”


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Last Updated May 06, 2010