Early last month, some 45 artists (about a third of whom are Penn alumni) gathered at Beaver Farm in Phoenixville, Pa. Armed with their respective media—from film and paint to clay and ink—they scattered across the sprawling 80-acre property, all on a mission to make art. “It was a beautiful, incredible day,” said the event’s organizer, Nancy Bea Miller C’85, “and everyone seemed to be having a great time.”
It was also a “great time” with a mission: to create works of art that will be exhibited and sold next month to benefit the Camphill Special School—a school for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities that Miller’s 16-year-old son, Henry, attends. While artists have painted en plein air (that is, outdoors) for centuries, Miller said her Plein Air for Camphill event is “absolutely unique in many ways, including the variety and caliber of the artists.”
This past August, Miller’s daylong (as in, a full 12 hours!) plein air event—which is now in its second year—included internationally exhibiting painter and former Penn Architecture student Stuart Shils; three-time Caldecott-winning book artist David Wiesner; Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Tony Auth; and painter Alexandra Tyng GEd’77, whose work I have previously featured on this blog. Other participating Penn alumni included Ed Bronstein (GAr ’68), Laura Kaderabak Eyring (CGS’90), Rebecca Harmer (LPS’10), Elaine Lisle (C’76), Liz Price (GFA’88), David Shevlino (CGS’92), Suzanne Schireson (CGS’04) and Rebecca Thornburgh (WG’87), along with Miller herself.
In a few weeks, about 67 artists will showcase their work in Plein Air for Camphill’s corresponding exhibition at The Rosenfeld Gallery. On Oct. 5, an exhibition and sale of the work will begin at 9 a.m. in the Philadelphia-based gallery, culminating with a cocktail reception from 5:30-8 p.m. Miller said that last year, the show brought in about $25,000, which is divided between the artists, the Camphill School and the gallery. “It’s really a win-win-win situation,” she added.