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‘Graffiti Scapes’ photography exhibit at Penn College gallery

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 reception is set for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, featuring a gallery talk at 5:30 p.m. The reception and exhibit are free and open to the public.

Graffiti Scapes,” Michael Hower’s exhibit of digital photographs focusing on ghost towns of the Mid-Atlantic – including "Biscuits" – is on display in The Gallery at Penn College through Oct. 6.
Graffiti Scapes,” Michael Hower’s exhibit of digital photographs focusing on ghost towns of the Mid-Atlantic – including “Biscuits” – is on display in The Gallery at Penn College through Oct. 6.

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.

Hower's portfolio also includes this digital photograph, titled "Green Line."
Hower’s portfolio also includes this digital photograph, titled “Green Line.”

“Graffiti Scapes” kicks off The Gallery at Penn College’s 2019-20 season – its 14th year serving as an educational resource for Pennsylvania College of Technology 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 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays. It is closed Mondays and Saturdays. During “Graffiti Scapes,” the gallery will be closed Sept. 1 and will offer special visitation hours during Penn College’s Homecoming and Parent & Family Weekend, Oct. 4-6.

For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free at 800-367-9222.


Ed Thompson,

Personally, I am no “fan” of graffiti as applied by vandals to innocent buildings or other “bodies” sitting in various places in various stages of existence awaiting what fate will be; however, these views of said desecration as applied over and over, again and again, have, in their own way, become as artlike as any other form on display in galleries around the world. Abstract, if you will! And it’s the “eye” of the photographer who is able to bring out the art aspect of it all. Good job.

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