- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Cameras are rolling in Kernville.

Three Windber Area High School students are creating a documentary about the BottleWorks Pillar Project — where local painters make murals of the pillars in Kernville that support the Route 56 bypass.

Since 2013, painters have created oversized images on 12 pillars, and up to six more will become canvases this summer. The documentary is to launch at a red carpet premiere at the BottleWorks during the Cambria City Ethnic Festival over Labor Day weekend, according to Emma Noonan, AmeriCorps activities director for BottleWorks.

“I think it’s amazing,” she said. “This promises us a future. If younger people get involved in it, there will be a legacy and new ideas for public art. This is the Johnstown they’re going to inherit, and (the video project) bridges this for the next generation. They have taken on an ambitious project. It’s really a celebration of the students and the artists.”

As part of a first-of-its-kind internship with the Cambria City arts organization, students Hattie Charney, 17, and Erik Blasic and Ryan Statler, both 16, are spending at least two days a week talking with Pillar Project artists and filming them through the stages of the paintings in Johnstown’s Kernville neighborhood.

After a broadcast journalism class piqued Blasic’s interest in videography during his freshman year, the teen found a passion for telling stories through video. Blasic, a rising junior, is a member of Windber’s national championship video production team. The three-member team captured first-place honors for its video, “Cyber Spying,” in the video production category at the recent Technology Student Association national competition in Dallas, Texas. The team also placed third in the nation in the on-demand video category, which required entrants to develop, write, film and edit a specific 60 second video in 48 hours.

The team crafted a storyline for “Cyber Spying” of a girl turning 10 who hacks her mother’s email account to find out what her birthday gift is. As a result, she loses her gift.

“There’s a moral to the story,” Blasic said.

For the story of painted pillars in Kernville, Blasic said the concept is to show the power of art.

“I really want to show the artistic side of our area,” he said.

“We’re not only talking about the artist and what they’re doing, but also how it impacts the community.”

Part of the project so far has included interviewing city officials.

“It is also going to show how art is bringing life to a rundown area of town,” Blasic said, after a few minutes of filming Westmont artist Renee Patrick adding shadows to sunflower petals that spanned a foot or more of concrete.

Charney and Statler also are involved in other Windber video projects, including the Windber News, a daily student-run video news program.

Charney, who will be a senior this fall, said she felt a pull to the creative energy of the school newsroom from the moment she started classes last fall.

“I think what’s important to highlight here is that it’s really bringing something back to the community,” she said. “We’re trying to create a video that shows all the beauty that will be in Johnstown.”

Kecia Bal is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at @KeciaBKay

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