Lanny Sommese-designed, Penn State Emergency Student Aid Commemorative Tapestry Makes Its Central Pennsylvania Arts Festival Debut on Friday, July 13, 2012

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As unique as the student emergency micro loan program it helps fund, the Sommese-designed, Langhorne Carpet Co. woven "Hand In Hand" tapestry will be on display and available for sale in the Hintz Family Alumni Center (Robb Hall) Friday-Sunday during Arts Festival. Donors - mostly alumni - from nearly 40 states have contributed more than $225,000 to help financially strapped students stay in school. Micro loans, macro results.

For the first time in more than three decades, legendary graphic designer Lanny Sommese will be the talk of the Central Pennsylvania Arts Festival for an original work of art that is woven and benefits the new emergency student loan fund at Penn State. His bold, widely acclaimed, all-wool tapestry design, “Hand In Hand”, makes its festival weekend debut Friday at a special exhibition in Robb Hall, within the Hintz Family Alumni Center in the heart of campus.

“Lanny is synonymous with the Arts Festival as its brilliantly whimsical official poster creator,” commented emergency loan fund founder Tom Sharbaugh (’73), “so it is a fitting tribute that his inspiring tapestry design be offered to festival visitors who otherwise might not have the opportunity to see his first foray into fabric art, and a chance to help our students.”

The Sommese design, contributed to the effort, was interpreted in the tapestry through a creative partnership with Langhorne Carpet Company of Penndel, Bucks County. As part of its non-profit focused “Carpets of Caring” program, the world-renowned custom carpet mill wove each tapestry (27” x 36’’ and costing $300.00) on its historic Jacquard Wilton loom. The weaving technique accentuates the blue open interlocking hands, set against a robust red background, that are symbolically extended in support of the Emergency Student Loan Fund. Penn State is believed to be the only state university offering this type of fund, which provides timely low-interest financial aid (http://giveto.psu.edu/MicrofinanceMatch) primarily through alumni donations.

University officials, who handle fund administration, say in its first year it has been an educational lifesaver, raising more than $225,000 from donors in nearly 40 states to directly help undergraduates cover unexpected costs. With yearly costs topping $28,000 –including tuition, room, board, and books – more and more students risk dropping out for strictly financial reasons.

“The Alumni Association is proud to have been involved since inception with the emergency student loan fund,” explained Deborah J. Marron, Ed. D., Director of Program Development and Enrichment for the Alumni Association. “It is a great example of generations of alums coming to the aid of future alumni. As a Board Member of the Arts Festival, I could not be happier that the “Hand In Hand” tapestry will be on display inside Robb Hall during this remarkable artistic exposition.”

Pre-festival tapestry orders can be placed directly through Tom Sharbaugh (tomsharbaugh (at) gmail (dot) com/ 215-963-5004), or Steph Rosenfeld (steph (at) idadvisors (dot) com / 215-569-4343) and picked up at the “Hand In Hand” exhibit inside Robb Hall. Purchases can also be made online through Langhorne Carpet, http://www.langhornecarpets.com.

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