JSHS Students Combine Art and Community

JSHS Students Combine Art and Community
Posted on 02/18/2019
Community ArtThe Wyomissing Area High School Public Arts Workshop has been encouraging students to use their artistic talents to help the community for more than a decade. This year the Public Arts Workshop continued the tradition by connecting with Habitat for Humanity, Opportunity House, and Neo-Pangea. 

Art teacher, Michael Miller, began the Public Arts Workshop in order to provide students with a class dedicated to community outreach. Instead of working on individual projects and taking them home, they would collaborate on projects for the community. Now, a decade later, the Public Arts Workshop is a popular class among artists of all grade levels. 

“I hope students can learn how art can impact the way a community feels about where they live,” explains Mr. Miller. “When students work together to benefit others, their art boosts the community in value and pride.”

This year, students worked on three different community projects. 

In collaboration with Habitat for Humanity of Berks County, the Public Arts Workshop created birdhouses for the fourth annual Birdhouse Challenge. This yearly challenge invites people and industries from all over Berks County to create and donate birdhouses, which are auctioned off at the event. All funds are used to complete Habitat for Humanity building projects in the city of Reading. Students from the Public Arts Workshop created bluebird and wren birdhouses using glass mosaic accents.  

Molly McCullough Murrill, Wyomissing Area Education Foundation’s new Executive Director, reached out to Mr. Miller on behalf of Habitat for Humanity of Berks County to ask if his art students would be willing to participate.  

Ms. McCullough Murrill says, “He was immediately interested in involving his students. Participating in a fundraising event is a great way for Wyomissing Area School District students to show off their talent and to give back to the community at the same time, all while enhancing the work they are doing in their art.”

For Opportunity House, a Reading-based nonprofit organization that helps community members in need by educating, housing, feeding, and empowering people to stand on their own feet, students created mosaic rowhomes that will be donated to benefit Opportunity House’s Legacy Society. 

The Public Arts Workshop also worked with Neo-Pangea, an innovate creative agency in West Reading and New York City artist Ben Rubin. Students fabricated a mural designed by Mr. Rubin and installed it on the outer wall of Neo-Pangea’s headquarters. The mural features Mr. Rubin’s signature “Subway Doodle” furry blue monster. The mural is part of the Cherry Street Mural Project, funded by the West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation’s Elm Street Program.

“When students collaborate on projects for the community, they see the bigger picture,” says Mr. Miller. “They work hard and are making a difference, I couldn’t ask for more.”