Paige Alana Bowermaster’s America250PA project heads to classrooms across the Commonwealth
Monday, August 29th, 2022
The work of Graphic Design senior Paige Alana Bowermaster will soon be in front of thousands of Pennsylvania schoolchildren. Simple line drawings by Bowermaster — worlds away from her typical, highly detailed work — fill a coloring book that both celebrates and educates, in honor of the nation’s 250th anniversary.
The project is an official part of America250PA, a state-level commission that was established four years ago by the legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf to mark America’s Semiquincentennial in 2026. And Bowermaster, in her role as a marketing and communications intern with America250PA, has found herself at the creative center of the commission’s work.
The experience, she says, has been phenomenal.
“I want to inspire the next generation to use visual art as a learning tool both at home and in the classroom,” she says.
Adding color to America250PA
Bowermaster’s state-level experience got its start about a year ago, when she joined a team of PCA&D students presenting an ad campaign for American250PA as part of a Direct Effect Innovation Challenge. The November 2021 event, open to college- and university-level students, drew competitors from more than 200 schools statewide. The team from PCA&D — Bowermaster, along with Sami Halfpenny ‘23, Illustration; Tyler Handa ‘23, Graphic Design; and Frankie Reed ‘23, Graphic Design, mentored by Prof. Bill Dussinger — guided their PAy it Forward pin-sharing campaign to a second-place finish.
About two weeks later Marissa Gioffre, America250PA Director of Projects and Programming, contacted Bowermaster to offer her an internship with the organization.
“I said ‘Absolutely’ right away!” Bowermaster remembers.
As commission members wondered how to get young children involved in the celebration, the idea of a coloring book was born. And Bowermaster was tasked with figuring it all out.
“I knew I wanted it to be simple, because it’s going to very young kids,” she says. “But they didn’t have any requirements as to images to include.”
So Bowermaster got to work. “My usual style is pretty eccentric and detail-oriented — very detail-oriented,” Bowermaster says with a laugh. Starting with really rough sketches, she then used skills she’s developed from Foundation year to the present at PCA&D to refine that work into final drawings suitable for this project.
What’s America250PA? It’s an initiative, says Communications Coordinator Bri Farrand, “that hopes to engage #EveryPennsylvanian in #EveryCounty.” Part of that effort in celebrating America’s 250th anniversary is this year’s launch of the Keystone Classroom Initiative, a storytelling and visitation program for kindergarten through 4th-grade classrooms, children’s hospitals, and youth camps across the Commonwealth. An integral part of that program: Bowermaster’s America250PA coloring book and the related materials she designed.
The finished book is separated into three sections: Pennsylvania Firsts, Pennsylvania Icons, and Pennsylvania Facts (did you know the Commonwealth boasts the first mint, the first school of medicine, and the first art museum and school in the country?). Bowermaster also created an informational page that can be printed out for children who are bilingual in English and Spanish, Arabic, Nepali, or Chinese: the most-spoken languages in Pennsylvania.
Her drafts were a hit: the coloring book is evolving into a much larger campaign aimed at children, with a mascot, sticker sheets, T-shirt graphics, and more. And, in the process, Bowermaster’s staff role transitioned from intern to project assistant.
“Paige … has contributed to America250PA in so many ways,” says Bri Farrand, the organization’s Communications Coordinator. “From day one, she has displayed positive energy, strong work ethic, and true passion for the work she creates.” In the midst of one of America250PA’s busiest years across the Commonwealth, Farrand says, Bowermaster’s skills were put to the test immediately.
That coloring book was just one of the tests.
When the prospect was first raised, Farrand says, “it was just a general idea with no real substance yet. Knowing that Paige had an interest in illustration we approached her with the idea and she absolutely ran with it. She understood the goal of both engaging and educating our youth.”
For her part, Bowermaster is quick to ask to share credit with a host of other PCA&D influences, including Bill Dussinger, Graphic Design Chair Pam Barby, ,Vice President of Strategic Communications Daina Savage, and Dean of Students Maria Provencher.
“Having this opportunity come to me as a junior in college, doing what I want to do” after graduation, has been a great experience, Bowermaster says.
It’s been great for America250PA, too.
Says Farrand: “We can’t wait to see the impact (Bowermaster’s project) makes across Pennsylvania.”