A fascination with abandoned buildings and landscapes inspired Enola resident Michael Hower to begin working in digital photography seven years ago. His current body of work, “Graffiti Scapes,” focusing on ghost towns of the Mid-Atlantic, is on display at The Gallery at Penn College now through Oct. 6.
A public reception is set for Thursday, Sept. 12, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., featuring a gallery talk at 5:30 p.m. The reception and exhibit are free and open to the public.
Hower’s quest to find landscapes and spaces consumed by graffiti began in Centralia, the Pennsylvania ghost town that sits atop a burning mine fire. The main road leading into town was buckled by the fire underneath, and decades later, visitors started to leave their mark. The infamous “Graffiti Highway” is covered with colorful tags and philosophical tidbits for three- quarters of a mile.
Researching more locations covered in Jackson Pollock-like webs of graffiti, he has gone on place-seeking journeys throughout the Mid-Atlantic, trekking through train graveyards, skate parks, city alleys and wherever graffiti dominates the landscape.
Hower’s art career began with formal training in painting, design and ceramics. He picked up a digital camera for the first time in 2012 and fell in love with the medium. His photography skills are self-taught and reflect his broader artistic training.
In addition to his long-term project of documenting ghost towns of the Mid-Atlantic region, Hower is devoted to capturing images of Pennsylvania’s extensive canal system. The majority of photography work focuses on historical themes and showcases his personal journey of learning about local history and heritage.
“Graffiti Scapes” kicks off The Gallery at Penn College’s 2019-20 season – its 14th year serving as an educational resource for Penn College students and a cultural asset to the college and community. Located on the third floor of the Madigan Library, the gallery is dedicated to promoting art appreciation through exhibitions of contemporary art.
The Gallery at Penn College is open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 to 7 p.m.; Wednesdays and Fridays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays, 1 to 4 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and Saturdays. During “Graffiti Scapes,” the gallery will be closed Sept. 1 and will offer special visitation hours during Penn College’s Homecoming, Oct. 4-6.
For information about the gallery, its exhibits, hours and additional offerings, visit www.pct.edu/gallery.