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Coleman Center displays student artwork

YORK-Indiana artists Shana Berger and Nathan Purath’s stay in Sumter County may have been a short one, but it is one that will never be forgotten. In their brief visit, the pair worked closely with area youth to give them a taste for the life of an artist and the results were very impressive.

Thursday night the Coleman Center for the Arts in York held an open house to display some of the artwork the children had produced. Those who took a walk through the gallery had many positive things to say.

While baseball games and graduations kept some from making the trip, the gallery saw a steady stream thought the afternoon. Berger said this was no surprise. She said since the pair arrived they have been fortunate to have heavy community support.

“Our whole stay here has been a real pleasure,” Berger said. “The people of York have been great. All the teachers, principals and school kids were just wonderful to work with.”

Purath agreed. He said the art was geared to keep things simple and let the students have fun, while producing something they could be proud of.

“This is simple artwork and it gives the students a chance to get something in the gallery,” Purath said. “Some really beautiful pictures are going to be in there and it lets them all be very proud of what they have done.”

Not all of the work was in the gallery. A billboard was also hung in the downtown area. The first billboard went up at 6 p.m. Wednesday and by 8:30 p.m. people were already giving positive feedback. John Brown, a local who has played a large role in the artistic movement of Sumter County said the projects are getting a lot of attention.

“People are really interested in this,” Brown said. “I think people are looking at this and waiting to see what is coming next.”

Berger said seeing the billboard was satisfying to everyone. It was satisfying to she and Purath for seeing their work make a difference and it was satisfying to the students to feel they could do their part to beautify the city.

“It was wonderful to see the billboards,” Berger said. “I think that people are going to get a lot out of it and I think it will bring a lot to the downtown area. I think it is empowering for them, They have their art right there downtown and it gives them the message that they have a little gift to give.”

Most importantly, the work Berger and Purath have done in the schools has encouraged the students to use art as expression. Brown said they hoped the students would take what they had learned and continue to enjoy and develop their artistic avenues.

“Hopefully, this is going to create an environment to encourage them to do this again,” Brown said. “A lot of people have said how much their kids enjoyed it. The kids are hungry for something like this and if you start feeding it to them a lot of good things can happen.”