Barn Quilts

Local students blanketing the area with new designs

Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Mifflin County High School art teacher Jennifer Hartzler takes a photo of a barn quilt the art students created at the school. This quilt will be displayed at Evolution Arts Center in Lewistown.

COCOLAMUS — The Juniata Valley continues to be quilted with the art of its students.

The Artist in Education Program with Perry County Council of the Arts has been giving high school students all over the area the opportunity to create barn quilts.

A barn quilt is a basic quilt pattern painted on a piece of wood that can be visible from a distance.

An artist resident works with high school students 10 to 20 days in the classroom.

Over the last five years there have been 21 barn quilts placed on barns along major routes in Juniata and Perry counties.

Recent residencies have taken place at Mifflin County High School and East Juniata High School with artist Denise Hoke.

Arts-in-Education Coordinator Mycenea Worley said MCHS students will have their barn quilts placed in walking trail in Lewistown, and other locations, and will have a modern appearance compared to past barn quilts.

“It’s a unique opportunity that gives students a chance to collaborate together while they’re learning history and art,” Worley said.

The recent program at EJHS was its second, said art teacher Tina Kerstetter. Four barn quilts were created during the residency with Hoke.

One quilt has been claimed by a local farmer. The remaining three are in need of homes, preferably on barns that are visible from major roadways in East Juniata High School territory. This could be McAlisterville, Thompsontown, Richfield, or even the Oriental/Seven Stars region.

The barn quilts have symbols of Juniata County history, including Native American culture, the lumber mill industry, rivers, canals and agriculture as well as faith/church significance, Kerstetter said.

Kerstetter’s junior high class made smaller barn quilts that are being put together in a checkerboard form to hang in the school cafeteria. These barn quilts are 12 inches by 12 inches.

The MCHS barn quilts are bit different than the typical designs of other projects in the area.

Jennifer Hartzler is one of four art teachers at MCHS working with students and learning from Hoke’s residency. Senior high art students have been working on their barn quilts.

“Doing a contemporary spin was something they really took to when we suggested it,” Hartzler said of the students, “Mifflin County and Downtown Lewistown has done a fantastic job in recent years with promoting the arts. With the East End Coffee shop providing art/live music venues to the new Evolution Arts center providing an artistic resource and outlet to children and adults alike, there is a definite momentum to make the arts more accessible to the public. Our students thought that an addition of a more contemporary feel would contribute to this momentum of change.”

Though they may not appear in typical quilt pattern form, they will resonate with the community, Hartzler said of the images.

“While these quilts may have a traditional (or more traditional composition) they chose to finishing them with a more contemporary feel. They are excited to see their hard work out in the community. As teachers, we also felt that a more contemporary feel not only honors the past of quilting and traditional art, but also bridges the gap between generations.”

For more information on the residency program: www.perrycountyarts.org/artist-in-residency-program/

Anyone who owns a barn in eastern Juniata County and is interested in having a barn quilt hung, can contact PCCA at (717) 567-7023. PCCA provides the means to hang the quilt at no cost to the owner of the barn.

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