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Students' work featured in art walk in Tamaqua

Artistic creations from some Schuylkill County middle schoolers are on display in one city's downtown, and it was created in a unique way.

TAMAQUA, Pa. — Some of the most celebrated works of art were painted with a brush or sketched with a pencil, but because of the pandemic, students at Tamaqua Middle School are using a mouse or a touchpad, creating their own masterpieces on a computer program called Sketchpad.

Eight grader Andrea Betz says it was difficult at first, but the program gives her the tools to be creative.

"Honestly, I would prefer the hands-on stuff, but it’s still a great opportunity to do it in COVID times."

The program also allows art teacher Kim Woodward to see how students are progressing, whether they're at home or in the classroom.

"It will never replace a real mixing of art because we know we all like to get messy, especially middle school students. But this is a great way to keep it connected, especially with students that are virtual," Woodward said.

And some of the results are astounding. Kendra Forester took her time, using small strokes to recreate a famous work of art.

"I picked Starry Night, and this took like six hours. She gave us class time, but I had to work outside the classroom, too."

Woodward says she wanted to show off her student's efforts in a safe way. Woodward partnered with 20 Tamaqua businesses, giving students the chance to walk down the city streets and see their artwork on display.

Tayla Zapotosky's artwork catches your eye in the window of Wheel downtown. She's excited about the display and enjoys creating in her free time.

"I have art that I’ve done at home. I’ve drawn characters from movies," Zapotosky said.

Eighth-grader Brooke Riley recreated Van Gogh's self-portrait using her computer and didn't even use a mouse. She's ready for the world to see her work.

"It means a lot because I’ve been doing art for a while now, and now everyone going to see it."

Woodward hopes the artwork reaches a market that might not otherwise attend an art show. She says the pieces are just what the downtown needs right now.

"It’s uniting the community; it’s an outlet. It’s positive mental health, something we can all relate to even if we’re physically not making it. Just seeing art can change someone’s mood," she added.

The Art Walk on Broad Street will remain on display for the next two weeks.

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