CLARKS SUMMIT — Diana Lombardi has made it her life’s work to teach children how to translate the world around them using a variety of different mediums. Now she partners with others in the community to exhibit art in hopes that exposure will raise awareness and inspire others to value art.
Furloughed from teaching art at a neighboring school district in 2011, Lombardi opened a small art studio space on Colburn Avenue in 2012. Less than a year later, Abington Art Studio outgrew the space and moved to its current location at 208 Depot St.
Lombardi runs the full-service art studio that offers classes in pottery and other art forms. Pottery classes include hand building, wheel throwing and glazing as well as sculpture and design. Other art classes offered include drawing and painting using a variety of mediums.
“Students create their own instruction,” Lombardi said. “We have small group instruction, but it’s student-led. Each student focuses on what they want to work on. It’s beautiful from a teaching perspective. So often students dislike art because they are forced to do what the teacher tells them. Because I knew that as a teacher, I shifted how I teach here in the studio and gave students here more freedom. They get individualized instruction, but they learn what they are interested in and we take it where they want to go.”
Lombardi returned to teaching in the classroom in 2016, but had grown such a love for her studio and students that she kept the studio opened and hired additional staff.
“It’s what I love to do,” she said. “It gives me creative freedom, and I can pass that on to my students.”
“We’re constantly trying to validate art and show people the value in what we do. I believe art teaches students to think more creatively and critically than any other subject. We need to value art as a society. It teaches us to interpret the world around us. It teaches critical thinking in students and promotes higher level thinking.”
Lombardi shared that she hires qualified art-trained educators. She is thrilled to have Mark Chuck on staff, who is an accomplished ceramic sculptor. Lombardi teaches art classes along with other trained teachers. One of those is Maria Veniamin, who started as a student at Abington Art Studio seven years ago.
“She was so shy,” Lombardi said. “Then she came out of her shell and blossomed.”
“I’ve enjoyed art since I was young,” Veniamin said. “I really loved coming here (to Abington Art Studio). And I enjoyed watching Diana. I just enjoyed her presence. She trained me and I learned so much. Now I’m teaching here.”
Veniamin is a student at Penn State Scranton studying corporate communications. Although she is pursuing a career in the corporate world, she says art will always be a part of her life.
Veniamin helped students finish artwork recently in preparation for their annual student showcase. Students have worked on drawings in charcoal and chalk pastels, and paintings in oil, acrylic and watercolor. Lombardi and her staff are proud of the work students have accomplished.
The opening reception for the Abington Art Studio’s Student Showcase will be held Friday, Aug. 16 from 6:30-8 p.m. at The Gathering Place, 304 S. State St.
Last year was the first the art studio partnered with The Gathering Place. This year, the gallery will showcase selections of student’s work for ages 8 and up.
“I love to do collaborative projects,” Lombardi said. “Working with The Gathering Place on this show has been wonderful. I love that their location is close by. The Gathering Place is supportive of the arts and it’s a really nice space.”
A leafy collaboration
Another collaboration the Abington Art Studio is doing with The Gathering Place is a leaf tile project.
“It’s a collection of indigenous leaves and plant life,” Lombardi shared. “Kelley Stewart taught a class on indigenous trees and the botany portion of it and I had them bring the leaves here and taught the art side. We rolled leaves into clay and did a process to create individual tiles. They are glazed and will be used for the back splash of The Gathering Place kitchen wall. Dory Waters approached me, and I thought it was a nice community project. It wasn’t just me making the tiles, but the community making these tiles. We even had exchange students come from Keystone and make some tiles. They are going to go home to Europe, but they left their stamp on the community of Clarks Summit.”
Abington Art Studio’s Student Showcase will be on display at The Gathering Place from Aug. 16 through Sept. 1. For more information, visit gatheringplacecs.org or abingtonartstudio.com.
If you go
What: Abington Art Studio’s Student Showcase
When: An opening reception will be held Friday, Aug. 16 from 6:30-8 p.m. and the exhibit will be on display through Sunday, Sept. 1.
Where: The Gathering Place, 304 S. State St., Clarks Summit.
More info: Visit gatheringplacecs.org or abingtonartstudio.com.