Ask almost anybody—ask them what drew them here, what keeps them here. Sometimes it’s family, sometimes it’s a job. But most of the time, it’s the land around them.
It calls to us.
Maybe most of all, it calls to our artists. We talked to two Pennsylvania-based artists who integrate the natural world—what we find in our forests and backyards—into their work.
Ellen Silberlicht, for one, usually creates in fiber and clay, or imprints leaves and flowers onto fabric. “It’s an adventure: an artistic, creative adventure,” she said.
Lucille Norella agrees. She dries local flowers, combines them with prayers or thoughts and frames them, making mementos that people “read over and over,” she said. “It nourishes me [to make them] and it nourishes other people.”
Both artists have strong connections to our natural world, and it’s reflected in their work.
“As a child, I went camping,” Silberlicht said. “We went across the country. Every state has a different terrain.” She remembered “the undulating trees, the undulating earth.” And here? “The rolling hills.”
No wonder she embraced sewing, developing a three-dimensional garment from a flat pattern. Later she moved into pottery (more three-dimensional shapes) before later felting fiber.
“Everyone thinks they have to go someplace else, but here it’s beautiful,” she said. “Living rurally, you live with nature.”
Flowers captivated Norella, who lives in Waymart. “I love flowers, I love working with them,” especially the pansies and johnny-jump-ups around her.
From her window, there’s plenty to admire. As the day moves on, the sun on the mountainside changes. Through the year, the leaves shift from green to red to the bare branches of winter
For her, the area’s beauty is tied to faith. “Creating is akin to spirituality, my lifeline to God,” she said. “Just being in nature gives me a lot of joy.”
“As I watch [the natural world] in all its beauty,” Norella continued, “It gives me hope. Hope for the future.”
View works by Ellen Silberlicht at www.ellensilberlicht.com.
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