On a cold, rainy morning, the Homeland Center sunroom was bursting with light. The walls sparkled in jewel tones of red, orange, green, and blue. In some spots, it appeared as if stained glass windows had been installed -- and that, it turned out, was the intent of Homeland’s featured artist for spring 2017.
The works of Art Association of Harrisburg members rotate quarterly in Homeland’s art gallery, and on this morning, artist Lilly Knopic was hanging her nature-inspired works. Many depicted forests and woods that Knopic has hiked in, but in fantastical shades and shadows.
“Beautiful,” Homeland resident Geoffrey Davenport told Knopic as she hung her oil paintings. “Why do you like to paint trees?”
Good question, she said.
“I grew up in the woods, in northeastern Ohio,” she said. “I try to capture light and shadow and the shapes they can make when you’re in the forest.”
Homeland is the only nursing facility participating in the Art Association’s exhibit program. The initiative gives exposure to local artists while brightening up unexpected spaces like businesses where people regularly traverse. At Homeland, works hang in the naturally lit, well-traveled hallway gallery created through the generosity of a benefactor.
Knopic’s brightest paintings belonged to her Forest Cathedral Series, based on her photos from Cathedral Forest, part of Cook Forest State Park in western Pennsylvania. The tall canopy of trees inspired the forest’s name, and Knopic started thinking about another key element of cathedrals – stained glass windows.
“I thought that was an interesting play on words, because shadows and light create that stained-glass effect,” she explained.
Knopic is an art educator who has taught at the Art Association of Harrisburg. Professionally, she is a mental health counselor who uses art in her work with children, not just because it allows a creative release but because it presents challenges for children to overcome.
“Art teaches coping skills,” she said. “I think we have the misconception that art is easy and relaxing, but for a lot of our kids, cutting, painting, and using a different material can be very frustrating. It teaches them to ask for help, how to problem solve, and how to use creative thinking because a lot of them aren’t flexible thinkers.”
Homeland and the Art Association choose artists likely to appeal to residents, but as they say, “To each his own.” Resident MJ Muro stopped to view the impressionist-style works. She always appreciates the exhibits, she said, but might need some time to get the gist of this one.
“They’re different,” she said. “I guess you have to let it grow on you. Everybody has a different idea.”
Homeland housekeeper Cherie Moore was trundling a cart through the hall when the vibrant artwork brought her up short.
“I like this because it has a lot of colors,” she said. “Everybody comes by here just to see the art. They always put the most interesting artwork up.”
She especially appreciated the work’s surreal, impressionist style.
“I like when you don’t follow the rules,” she said.