Backstage Library Works
A collection of four artworks are cropped and arranged side-by-side including a photo of a 'book' titled "NEEDFULS", a lake, portraits of a man, and a brown-etched plate of houses.

Pennsylvania Office Wraps Up Successful 15-Month Showcase of Employee Art

Last month marked the end of an ongoing internal exhibition of employee art and writing. What began as a team-building exercise in our Digitization department back in January of 2022 grew into a 60 submission, year and a half long showcase of talent among our staff. “Originally, I expected it to last maybe a month or two,” explained Bryon Garrison, Digitization Project Manager and originator of the idea to exhibit the work. “I was very surprised when I put out the initial e-mail. We were just going to do one art piece every two weeks to sort of stretch it out. But, because there was so much demand, we moved it to once every week.”

Each week, a new piece of art, be it a painting, mixed-media collage, or piece of poetry took its place on an easel near the front of the building. Each submission would be described with a golden plaque to mimic the feel of a museum. That was something Bryon and co-organizer, Alexis Day, also a Digitization Project Manager, felt strongly about including. “We wanted people to feel a pride in their work since this was a showcase of their talent.”

We spend a significant portion of our time at work with coworkers. Still, our jobs don’t always afford us the opportunity to talk about the things we do in our off hours – our hobbies and personal projects. The team-building exercise that kicked off the exhibition opened Bryon’s eyes to that fact. “You don’t really get to see your coworker’s creativity on a day-to-day basis.” Now, as submissions have wound down, Bryon and Alexis are “sad to see it go” – but everyone has been excited to see the project’s success and, more importantly, learn more about each other.

We are excited to share some of these excellent pieces here in a blog. Congratulations to our Bethlehem team for such a successful and positive creative project!

Brittany Shaw: Metal Memories

“I graduated from Kutztown University with a bachelor’s degree in fine art, a minor in fine metals and a minor in Art History. I could never only focus on one area of art or focus on one medium.

After college I became interested in merging my artistic interests and techniques and breaking all the rules that I had learned.  I focused not so much on using the mediums in a traditional way but merging everything I had at my disposal to capture an emotion or a small moment/feeling in time.

I took this photo during a walk around Kutztown, the place where I met my husband, where we started a family and I wanted to keep a piece of it with me always, even as we grew our family and moved away from our small town.

In “Metal Memories” I mixed a jewelry etching technique with photography, I used photo resist paper on a copper plate, and then applied chemical etching to create this piece.” – Brittany Shaw

Terry Coffman: Needfuls

This keepsake box is ornamented with the use of scrap cardboard, tissue paper, napkins, and some findings from the Dollar Tree. The hinge is a grosgrain ribbon and the spine is a bathroom tissue tube with air-dry clay for the hubs.

“I tend to look for things people no longer see as useful and turn them into something beautiful,” explains Terry. “I like to work in all kinds of mediums and I’m always looking for a new way to create. I’m thinking maybe papier mâché might be next.”

Terry is also interested in furniture building and repurposing with a few pieces in and around her house that she’s made or turned into something else when they were unable to fulfil their original function.

Matt Snyder: Solitary Confinement

The work was a response to an article on Why is being alone considered torture?

Confining a human being in isolation beyond 15 days has been shown to cause irreversible psychological damage, like hallucinations, issues with impulse control, impaired cognitive ability, loss of memory, suicidal ideation, and personality dissociation. These effects can be permanent.

The work is digital. “I took multiple digital photographs of myself making different expressions. I then tweaked the colors using an app called Snapseed and distorted the images using an app called Mirror Lab. Every two photos were superimposed on each to create the next transition. It took about two weeks for me to get this exactly where I wanted it.”

Matt has been involved in multiple aspects of the arts for over 30 years. Primarily, he is a traditional artist that occasionally dabbles in digital works like this.

Daniel Polachek: Crater Lake

“’Crater Lake, Oregon’ is a digital photograph that I took while at the Lake among my travels. This photo is about this place. This extraordinary mass of land and water. It’s that simple. Traveling is a huge part of me and a great way to gain wisdom and knowledge of this world we live in and the people who live in it. I have a background in photography so whenever I travel, I will have my camera. To capture the moment, the experience, the memory, so it can live on.

I’m glad to be a part of this. I am definitely very passionate about art and to be able to share some of mine along with the story behind it, is truly cool.” – Daniel Polachek

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