Art center blooms with flowers

PARKERSBURG – Spring flowers became works of art with the opening of the first “Bloom, Bloom, Pow” show at the Parkersburg Art Center on Saturday.

Jaime Seltzer, an art teacher at Williamstown High School, said the art show uses plants and plant parts to create works of art, adding the show grew out of a project she assigns to her seventh-grade science students.

“Every year the seventh-grade students gather 20 plants and identify them using a field guide,” she said. “Then they press and dry them and mount them. This is the first time they have been used as an art show.”

Seltzer said the show was funded by a grant from the Our Community Foundation to integrate the arts and sciences. About 100 students from WHS participated, with about 70 from the school’s art classes and 30 were her science students.

The program grew out of projects to give students varied learning experiences, Seltzer said.

“This allows them to come into their own,” she said. “Those who aren’t great test takers love to go out in the wood and do something they can touch and feel.”

Some of the pressed flowers gathered by the students were used for a calendar and greeting cards. They will be on sale during the show, which runs through May 28 at the art center at 725 Market St. in downtown Parkersburg.

Seltzer said she worked with Debbie Shively, an art teacher at WHS, on the show featuring works from students in both classes.

“When I was scanning some of the works I realized they were beautiful in their own right,” she said. “I remembered when I was in graduate school I had to a similar project on a larger scale. My housemate at the time said they looked like art, something you would hang in a gallery.”

Seltzer said Saturday’s opening at the art center brought a lot of positive comments.

“People seemed pleased with the art work,” she said. “They think they are really gorgeous. The children loved doing the activities.”

In addition to the dried flower works, workshops were offered during Saturday’s event. Those included one involving flowers impressed in clay conducted by Katie Ferguson, pressing flowers in between pieces of plexiglass by Loran Conley and painting flowers in vases by Lynda Rhodes.