December 05, 2018 News Release

PA Turnpike Commission and PA Council on the Arts Unveil Student-Created Artwork

PA Turnpike Commission and PA Council on the Arts Unveil Student-Created Artwork

Carlisle, PA — Today, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) unveiled new artwork, designed and created by students at Big Spring Middle School. This art installation, created through Art Sparks, a partnership between the PTC and the PCA’s Arts in Education residency program, is composed of eight painted quilt designs mounted both inside and outside the Cumberland Valley Service Plaza. 

Coordinated through the PCA’s regional Arts in Education partner, Jump Street, students worked with teaching artist, Denise Hoke, and art teacher, Laura Shambaugh, to design and create the artwork. These pieces showcase the art of barn quilts that are part of the Cumberland Valley and represent the fifth in the Art Sparks series which have been installed along the 550-mile PA Turnpike.

The unveiling event, which took place at the Cumberland Valley Service Plaza, drew individuals from the community to help celebrate, including students, families and local and state officials.

“We are very excited to be here today to unveil these inspired quilt patterns that represent the Cumberland Valley,” said PTC CEO Mark Compton. “Each of the Art Sparks’ installations represents the region around the service plaza area, but most importantly, it showcases the imagination and talents of young people in Pennsylvania.”

“Art Sparks presents students with the unique opportunity to create permanent artwork for public display,” said Karl Blischke, PCA executive director. “Not only did this experience help you grow as artists, but you’ve commendably highlighted your community’s many assets and landmarks for Turnpike travelers. I applaud you all for bringing this impressive installation to life.”

“We are so very proud of our students for the way in which they have shared their love of the arts with others,” said Clarissa Nace, Big Spring Middle School Principal. “We are also very appreciative to all of you who have ignited and fostered this project.  As we say in education, through this experience you have touched the lives of many students.”

 “With our area’s rich agricultural roots, the classes opted to do a quilt-pattern theme,” explained Laura Shambaugh, “Once that decision was made our 6th, 7th and 8th grade art students went to work to create the intricate and colorful patterns that you see here today.”

Art Sparks is a partnership between the PTC and the PCA. The program pairs K-12 art students and teaching artists from the PCA’s Arts in Education roster with the goal to install a local, student-created artwork in every service plaza, system-wide, over the next five to eight years. Schools near each respective service plaza host 20-day teaching artist residencies led by a local PCA teaching artist. Students work with the artist and members of the community to create artwork that reflects the region. For more information on Art Sparks, visit or  

Norah Johnson, PA Council on the Arts
Phone: 717-585-4713
Rosanne Placey, PA Turnpike
Phoone: 717-831-7507