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From street to screen: 2020 Arts Fest poster captures perseverance of artists amid pandemic

Arts Fest 2020

Because the coronavirus pandemic will so drastically alter the 2020 Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts experience, Lanny and Saige Somesse wanted to capture the opposite of what some participants may be feeling — the hope and happiness present throughout the artistic community.

This year, artists will not find themselves in tents lining downtown State College, but rather in a foreign, technological world showcasing their work online.

“It’s been an interesting challenge because a lot of artists aren’t super techy,” Rick Bryant, the executive director of the CPFA, said. “It’s getting to the point where they have a great picture and they can tell people in four short sentences what they do. [It’s] new to a lot of them.”

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According to Bryant, a sunrise is an "an age-old symbol of a new day and endless possibilities." This communal feeling of optimism and tranquility is what Lanny and Saige Sommese aspired to capture through this year’s Arts Fest poster.

“A theme that pops up again and again in the Arts Fest posters is the beautiful Central Pennsylvania landscape,” Saige said via email. “We wanted to incite that same peaceful feeling in the poster, giving a slice of Happy Valley to people participating elsewhere.”

The father-daughter pair aimed to mimic that community feeling within their poster, representing the CPFA's perseverance through transitioning to a virtual reality and hoping for an “amazing 2021 festival.”

The 2020 poster also differentiates itself from past years' posters by lacking a “personified object” as the subject, according to Saige.

In the past, Lanny and Saige worked together on the poster, sharing the tradition and creativity in person. However, because of the difficulties presented by the pandemic, Saige brought her father's sketches to life from her desk computer in Denver.

“I like that the poster isn’t telling a story,” Saige said, “but allowing the viewer to make one up for themselves.”

Despite the transitional challenges, Bryant said the CFPA emphasizes one message for the artist community: keep taking chances and hoping for a better tomorrow.

“Artists and musicians, they’ve really had their world turned upside down,” Bryant said. “They’ve had to adapt to a new reality of people attending things online, so it’s a strange new world out there and we’re hoping for the best.”

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Carol Korte, an artist and usual participant in the festival, said the theme of the poster resonated with her.

Given the difficulties facing the artistic community — show closures, online galleries, financial and emotional struggles — the poster both promotes and supports artists, according to Korte.

“While we have all this new found free time, many artists I've talked to, including myself, are having a difficult time creating,” Korte said via email. “But many of us don't feel whole unless we are creating, so it creates tension and unrest within us.

"We will persevere, and we will create, because it's who we are.”

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