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Lehigh Valley PBS (WLVT-TV, Channel 39) will feature Lafayette’s 55+ Art Program in its popular news magazine program “TEMPO!” 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Friday.

Twenty residents of local retirement communities, ranging from age 60 to 92, are the first students in the 55+ Art Program. The six-week art appreciation workshop, consisting of both hands-on studio work and art history lessons, began Jan. 8 in the Williams Visual Arts Building (WVAB).

The workshop is an expansion of the art department’s Community-Based Teaching Program, which also offers classes, workshops led by renowned artists, and open studio sessions to local high school students and the public. The 55+ Art Program will be offered every six weeks throughout the academic year and into the summer.

Jim Toia, director of the College’s Community-Based Teaching Program, is spearheading the project along with abstract painter Karla Stinger ’97, a WVAB visiting artist, who is leading the classes.

“Our senior population is so often undervalued and under-served,” says Toia, who also is an accomplished sculptor and director of the WVAB’s Grossman Gallery. “We have the facilities and resources here to provide them with an opportunity. They can immerse themselves in a discipline they might have had interest in all their lives, but not the opportunity in which to invest.”

“Karla is very talented and exceptionally positive,” he adds. “She will be very effective in bringing out each and every participant’s potential. I look forward to great results and watching this program flourish.”

Says Stinger: “I’ve been a visiting artist at Lafayette for the past two years and I really wanted to do something for the College since it’s given me so much. I have to turn around and share that with the community.”

Stinger’s recently retired father, a painter, inspired her to design and offer the classes. She wanted to help provide an artistic community for active adults like her father, something more structured than the open studio sessions Lafayette offers.

With an interest in art and culture, Stinger graduated from Lafayette as an American studies major and worked in the television industry for four years. She was a producer and editor for VH-1, where she assisted with the “100 Greatest Albums of Rock ’n Roll” and “Behind the Music.” She also worked for a short time with Ridley Scott Associates, the commercial production company owned and run by legendary filmmakers Ridley and Tony Scott.

After watching the Twin Towers fall from the company’s office a few blocks away, Stinger left the city and decided to refocus her career on the fine arts. She began studying art at Rutgers University and says she became interested in community enrichment and the effect art has on shaping society and “creating and sustaining an interdependent community.”

Stinger has had several solo and group shows in the Lehigh Valley and is development associate at the Hunterdon Museum of Art in Clinton, N.J. She plans to attend graduate school in fine arts this fall.

Lafayette’s Community-Based Teaching Program was featured in The New York Times on Jan. 19, 2003. The article called Lafayette’s collaboration with Phillipsburg (N.J.) High School, in which nine Phillipsburg art students take classes at the Williams Visual Arts Building, one of the more successful programs in New Jersey’s push to make senior year more productive, stimulating, and challenging by allowing high school students to “step into the real world” of internships, work, or college courses.

Lindsey Tibbott is one of three New Jersey high school seniors the Times followed in a story called “How Schools Are Trying to Avoid the ‘Senior Slide.'”

Miss Tibbott, a 17-year old senior from Pohatcong . . . leaves Phillipsburg High School during the last period on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and drives to downtown Easton to attend class at Lafayette at no cost.

“The program is amazing,” she said. “The people we meet and what we get to do is so much different than a high school program. We are talking to the artists, which is such a good experience. Before this, I had no idea what art school would be like.”

“Arthur Rothkopf, the president of Lafayette, sees the arrangement as a fair trade,” the story says. “After all, reasons Mr. Rothkopf, some students may decide to attend Lafayette. In addition, the program – which includes students from Pennsylvania and New Jersey – promotes good relations between the college and the community.”

The 23,500-square-foot Williams Visual Arts Building is one of the leading high-tech facilities for art education and exhibitions in the nation. It includes sculpture and painting studios, a community-based teaching studio, the Grossman Gallery, a flexible studio area with movable walls for honors and independent study students, a seminar room, a conference room, and faculty studios and offices. The classrooms are adjacent to professors’ personal studios, which encourages the free exchange of ideas between students and faculty.

The building, which was dedicated in April 2001, is home to Lafayette’s studio art program. Located on North Third Street, at the main gateway to the campus, the building underscores Lafayette’s commitment to play a prominent role in the revitalization of downtown Easton.

The building was recognized for excellence in design quality with the Silver Medal from the Pennsylvania chapter of The American Institute of Architects, the highest award given by the organization. It was chosen from a pool of applications by 100 practicing architects in Pennsylvania.

The Visual Arts Building also received the Adaptive Reuse Award from the Easton Heritage Alliance. The award recognizes excellence in buildings that have undergone major restorations/renovations to serve a purpose that differs from the facility’s original function.

Categorized in: News and Features