Led by Ophelia Chambliss, a 2013 master of arts in communications graduate and lecturer in the college’s School of Humanities, more than 200 members of the college community completed a large-scale artwork commemorating Penn State Harrisburg’s 50th anniversary.
“I wanted to do something that would provide the opportunity for a lot of people to have their hands on it and would also signify the 50th,” Chambliss said on her concept for the piece. “It had to say,
‘you are all a part of this.’”
The piece, composed of more than 200 individual squares and currently hanging in the Student Enrichment Center on campus, was completed during “We Are Weekend” in October 2016, and several days after–with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and future Penn Staters lending their artistic abilities.
Chambliss said that she enjoyed that people personalized their squares with their initials or a design so that they were able to find their piece after the artwork was put together.
In developing the piece, Chambliss came up with the abstract design, incorporating the college’s 50th anniversary mark. She also created all the paint colors used.
“I looked at the mark and then did a lot of serious math and planning to plot it out and get it on this image,” Chambliss said. “I had to find colors of the same value, nothing too dark or too light, and they had to be completely different from the blue in the logo, so it would be distinct. The design was dictated by the needs of the project. We wanted it to be unique to Penn State Harrisburg and the 50th anniversary.”
Chambliss then cut the image she made into individual squares, which were painted by the Penn State Harrisburg community.
“Once it was cut up, you couldn’t really tell what it was going to look like until it was put back together,” she said.
Chambliss said that while it was hard to coax some people into participating, once they started, they kept coming back to do more squares. She added that she had to pull out extra squares to accommodate the volume of participants, which she eventually incorporated into the artwork.
“The piece had a real sense of community.” Chambliss said. “Even after we finished, there were still people who wanted to paint. I wish I had more.”