Teacher to bring pas­tel-col­ored vi­sion to Haiti

News-Herald (Perkasie, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Meghan Ross

Pen­nridge School Dis­trict art teacher Mar­i­anne Knipe sees the world through pas­tel-col­ored glasses.

Her house in Al­len­town is full of ethe­real pas­tel paint­ings — vi­sions of pic­turesque French streets, Monet-es­que pas­tures and dreamy Tran­syl­va­nian gypsy women.

Knipe, who teaches at J.M. Grasse and Dr. Patricia A. Guth el­e­men­tary schools, is a worl­drenowned pro­fes­sional pas­tel artist. In a cou­ple days, she will be em­bark­ing on a trip to Haiti for an in­ter­na­tional art work­shop.

Knipe be­gan work­ing with pas­tels in 2001 when she was re­cov­er­ing from two hip re­place­ments.

“I de­cided to treat my­self to a

a box of French pas­tels,” she said, as if talk­ing about a box of choco­lates.

Her pas­tel col­lec­tion, how­ever, has grown con­sid­er­ably since then.

“I lit­er­ally prob­a­bly have 1,500 pas­tels,” she said.

It takes any­where from a day to three months for Knipe to com­plete a pas­tel work. She starts with char­coal on French sand­pa­per, which al­lows for many lay­ers. In Haiti, she hopes to work en plein air — the French ex­pres­sion for in the open air — though other times she takes pho­to­graphs of peo­ple or land­scapes to work off of.

Knipe keeps cer­tain pieces she’s at­tached to, but when she sells her art­work, the price ranges any­where be­tween $300 and $1,800.

Knipe has trav­eled to coun­tries like Aus­tria, Hun­gary, France, 0oUoFFo DnG 5oPDnLD IoU KHU DUW­work.

A cou­ple years ago, Knipe started par­tic­i­pat­ing in an art camp in Aiud, 5oPDnLD. 3DUWLFLSDnWs KDYH Wo DSSly, be ac­cepted and pay their own way Wo 5oPDnLD. 2nFH WKHy JHW WKHUH, WKH artists are then treated to free room, board and art sup­plies. The artists’ method of pay­ment? Cre­at­ing art. Af­ter about two weeks of work, a jury picks three of their pieces for ex­hibits around the world. The ex­hibits are at­tended by in­ter­na­tional em­bassies rep­re­sent­ing the artists’ home coun­tries. Some of the art­work is also given to art mu­se­ums and to spon­sors.

“It was an amaz­ing, life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said of her fiUsW WLPH SDUWLFLSDWLnJ Ln WKH 5oma­nian art camp.

The Haitian art camp Knipe is JoLnJ Wo Ls sLPLlDU Wo WKH 5oPDnLDn one, but she’ll also spend some time sight­see­ing and work­ing with chil­dren.

Knipe will par­tic­i­pate in the “my KH$57 wLWK H$,7,” FKDULWy HxKL­bi­tion. The 30 in­ter­na­tional artists go­ing to Haiti will do­nate some of their art­work “in sol­i­dar­ity with the chil­dren of Haiti and help them pro­vide the nec­es­sary ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als to the vic­tims of the Haiti earth­quake dis­as­ter in 2010,” ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease.

Knipe is also look­ing for­ward to work­ing with an or­phan­age in Haiti. She’ll be vis­it­ing one or­phan­age where an el­derly lady is tak­ing care of 100 or­phans, ac­cord­ing to Knipe’s Haitian friend and art camp or­ga­nizer, Patrick Cau­vin. When she re­turns to the U.S., Knipe plans to or­ga­nize a fundraiser with Pen­nridge students to raise money for the or­phan­age.

The trip to Haiti, how­ever, cre­ates some anx­i­ety for Knipe.

“Af­ter read­ing the state depart­ment’s web­site, I was go­ing to can­cel,” Knipe said of her trip to Haiti over Thanks­giv­ing break. “Peo­ple get killed, kid­napped, raped and mur­dered ev­ery day. So, I was think­ing, ‘Why wouldn’t I just want to make a tur­key and fall asleep?’”

7KLs wLll bH WKH fiUsW WLPH .nLSH has trav­eled to Haiti, though her hus­band, award-win­ning ABC teleYLsLon HnJLnHHU 5LFKDUG .nLSH, KDs been there sev­eral times for work.

“0y Kus­bDnG HnFouUDJHG PH Wo Go LW,” sKH sDLG oI 5LFKard, who gives her his IUHTuHnW flyHU PLlHs.

5LFKDUG Lsn’W WKH only one sup­port­ive of Knipe’s pas­sion for pas­tels; Knipe’s students have seen her art­work on dis­play in the li­brary.

“The kids are so sweet and won­der­ful,” Knipe said. “They of­ten say, ‘0y WHDFKHU Ls D UHDl DUWist!’”

.nLSH WHDFKHs fiUsW WKUouJK fiIWK JUDGH DW WKH Wwo 3Hn­nridge el­e­men­tary schools, and she has or­ga­nized art auc­tions in the Pen­nridge area for fundrais­ing pur­poses.

Knipe re­cently or­ga­nized a chil­dren’s art auc­tion to raise money for a Pen­nridge stu­dent who has can­cer. Knipe said she expected the auc­tion would raise some­where be­tween $1,000 and $2,000. In­stead, the event raised $7,000.

Knipe some­times uses pas­tels in the class­room, though the art medium can get messy with kids.

“vou know, if you’re not ex­pe­ri­enced, you can just imag­ine what the cleanup is,” she said.

The medium rubs off eas­ily, but pas­tels are sur­pris­ingly re­silient. Knipe said she went to an ex­hibit in New vork with oil and pas­tel paint­ings from the 1700s. The oil paint­ings looked faded, while the pas­tels looked bright — as if they had been done yes­ter­day, said Knipe.

“0y KHDUW Ls UHDlly wLWK SDsWHls. … They need light — they are lu­mi­nous,” Knipe said, beam­ing her­self.

News-her­ald photo — DEBBY HIGH

Mar­i­anne Knipe cre­ates pic­tures of faces from all around the world.

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