How profound it is to be resilient… Thanks to the students who took time to share their stories with me. Thank you for demonstrating strength in community and the value of art. And thank you to HACC for listening to the needs of your students and community.
You saved HACC Arts.
A few weeks ago, students and professors at Harrisburg Area Community College quickly took action, organized, and worked with the college’s administration to restore arts courses that had recently been removed from the curriculum.
Due to their efforts, five of the six courses have been reinstated for the Fall 2018 class schedule and HACC’s President, Dr. John “Ski” Sygielski, has promised that the college will continue to better assess the needs of it’s students.
I spent time with some of the students who are not only enrolled currently in those classes, but are part of a tight-knit community of makers thriving and supporting each other through the arts programs at HACC. As of Wednesday, they are relieved and excited to continue their arts education here at the community college.
Shawna Purdy-Beaver originally worked as a hairdresser and hair educator in Harrisburg. In 2013, after owning two different salons, raising her children, and getting married, she decided to go back to school. Shawna started taking photography courses at HACC… which led her to explore glass art and eventually, ceramics as well. “I fell in love with ceramics!” she states passionately.
Shawna hopes to eventually open an arts center. She has always loved to teach and is fervent about the ‘desire in [her] heart’ to open a place in Harrisburg where people of all ages can come to learn to be makers of art. Agency through art and the programs at HACC helped her discover her own gifts and she wants to help others do the same. “When you get involved in the arts you always hear people say, ‘I always wanted to try that…,’ and I want to have a place where people can try it. I don’t care if you’re 80 or 95 [years old],” she says, “come on in here. We’ll find you a slow wheel and some soft clay and we’ll teach you how to throw.”
Ariana Bronson was homeschooled and cyber-schooled before coming to HACC to study ceramics in the Fall of 2015. Ari comes from a family that cherishes the arts and, as a result, states that she has, “always had a tactile sense of learning.” Acknowledging the cost of tuition at four year institutions and hoping to avoid extraneous debt, she values her education and resources here at the community college. A large portion of her time in the studio is dedicated to experimenting with and developing her own crystalline glazes and building a portfolio to apply to four year schools to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
“I’ve been president of the ceramics club at HACC for the past two years,” she says. “It has been what I consider to be one of the most valuable learning experiences in my life so far. The sense of community that we have and share is like no other.”