Artists in Schools & Communities
Ambridge Area School District
In Beaver County, PCA&M has been partnering with Art Teacher Jamie Zbrzezny since 2015. We love building long-term relationships with school communities, teachers, and administrators.
Teaching Artist Laura Jean McLaughlin created a ceramic tile mosaic mural with middle school students in the 2013-2014 school year. To add a unique element to the mosaic, Teaching Artist and Metalsmith Lindsay Huff was a visiting artist for the project, and worked with students to create enameled copper charms that became take home jewelry for students, but also additional elements to be embedded into the mural.
In 2016, the middle school welcomed three Resident Artists–Metalsmith Lindsay Huff, working with science teacher Don Ayers, Fiber Artist LaVerne Kemp working with English Language Arts Nancy George, and Fiber Artist/Batik Artist Saihou Njie, working with Jamie Zbrzezny. Students created cell-inspired art in metal and enamel with Teaching Artist Lindsay Huff and each class created a functional cell mobile to correlate with and reinforce students’ current studies about visually identifying and knowing the functions of each cell organelle. Teaching Artist LaVerne Kemp worked with English Language Arts teacher Nancy George and her students to explore identity and literature while creating weavings for a school installation. Teaching Artist Saihou Njie created a quilted batik mural while working with Jamie Zbrzezny’s art students. Students learned hand-sewing techniques to create embellishments for their panels and were thrilled to see the mural installed in the atrium of the school and then loaned and displayed for an exhibition at the PCA&M galleries. Participating students also took a field trip to PCA&M where they explored other art forms that correlated with their experiences!
In 2017, Jamie Zbrzezny’s middle school students worked with Laura Jean McLaughlin to create a beautiful and charming mural to enliven their school’s cafeteria.
In 2018, Jamie Zbrzezny enlisted Metalsmith Lindsay Huff to create a new mural to replace an old, faded school decoration meant to help students observe Grief Awareness Day. Middle school students created 8′ x 12′ mural made of hammered aluminum can pieces. Thousands of small nails later, the mural depicted a large tree on which paper butterflies are attached each May for Grief Awareness Day as well as the historic Ambridge Bridge and the nearby Ohio River.
In 2019, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders worked with Teaching Artist/Fiber Artist LaVerne Kemp and Art Teacher Jamie Zbrzezny to create a pair of incredible weavings to adorn the school’s auditorium stage.
The students utilized colorful fibers while using the floor loom to create many, many feet of beautiful woven fiber art. Students learned to weave on a smaller scale as well as they created small personal weavings on cardboard looms. Later, they learned how to hand stitch and how to felt wool and were able to incorporate their felted creations into the final piece as well. Many hands created an incredible outcome!
In 2020, the goal of Teaching Artist/painter Ryan McCormick’s 10-day Artist Residency Project at Ambridge Area High School was for art teacher Jamie Orth (née Zbrzezny) and her students to explore the way in which trees communicate with each other through their underground root systems and to present the language of trees through drawing and painting. We learned about how trees use language to help each other out, regardless of the tree’s species, and encouraged students to use kindness (like the trees) when communicating in their daily lives. (Learn more about the book this project was based on: The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben.) For their final project, each student created a watercolor painting of a tree of their choice and wrote a kind message growing from the tree’s roots. Students were encouraged to give their final project to a loved one as an act of kindness.
In 2023, Jamie Orth will be working with teaching Artist/muralist Bernie Wilke for a new project with her high school students. Stay tuned to hear more about this evolving collaboration!