By Nate Widom
The several smiling faces of HAC practice many skills and hobbies once they end their shift. Here we showcase the artistic talents of four of our many club employees.
Music was ingrained in HAC Swim Instructor Samantha Wolfe as a young child. Ever since she was little, she remembers singing along word for word to songs on the radio in her father’s truck.
At the age of four, Samantha began her classical training in piano and remains a classical pianist, teaching private piano lessons to children of all ages. She mostly continues to play classical piano but experiments with pop on special occasions.
Samantha expanded her musical abilities when she attended Cab Calloway School of the Arts (Cab for short), majoring in piano during grades 6-10. In grades 8-12, she participated in the school’s competitive concert and marching bands. There, she picked up the clarinet, tenor saxophone, and guitar. In addition to playing in the bands, she played at school galas, fundraisers, and gallery openings.
During her senior year, Samantha became the drum major (a.k.a. the conductor) of the school’s well-known band—the Spirit Marching Band—which is one of the top 3 marching bands on the east coast! This led her to be one of the several current coaches of her former high school’s marching band.
Music is everything to Samantha, and she cannot live without it. She finds it a great way to express herself, crediting music for how she deals with anything from sadness to anger. At the age of six, she was in “jail” (grounded) for a couple of weeks and couldn’t listen to the radio. Not being able to hear music was the hardest part of her punishment.
Music also helped Samantha grow as a person and develop confidence. Samantha used to be introverted, but music helped her come out of her comfort zone. She credits her musical education at Cab for this, thanks to the competitive aspects and the collaboration with other musicians at the school.
When personal trainer and registered dietitian Ashley Boyer isn’t working with her clients at HAC, she enjoys painting.
“I have always enjoyed coming back to my art, even though I have pursued dietetics and personal training professionally,” states Ashley.
Growing up, her grandmother owned an art gallery and framing shop in Media, PA, which sparked her artistic imagination and desire. Ashley would frequently draw and paint at the shop. Additionally, her elementary and middle
school art teachers constantly encouraged her to perfect her art.
Ashley enjoys painting portraits, pets, and landscapes scenes. Every so often, she experiments with her techniques through shading and color theory.
“Every face tells a story, and I love bringing a personality to life. I especially enjoy painting for friends and family,” Ashley recalls. “I enjoy seeing the impact that my art has on others and the enjoyment others derive from my art.”
Ashley aims to have her art paint scenes and conjure emotions. “I like to be multifaceted in what I paint and the themes and emotions I intend to evoke,” she explains.
“My art is meaningful to me as it enables me to connect with people,” states Ashley. “I am grateful when people display my paintings in their home, and I particularly enjoy their satisfaction in seeing a portrait of their favorite furry friend when I unveil it.”
HAC personal trainer Eric Neil is also a self-taught artist and has been practicing for the past five to six years. “I’ve always had a passion for [art],” he states.
Eric specifically makes fine art with graphite, charcoal, and pastels, and he practices photography. “I enjoy the process, such as creating grids and blocking out my work,” he states. “I have synaesthesia, so art is very soothing and relaxing!”
According to Scientific American, “Synesthesia is an anomalous blending of the senses in which the stimulation of one modality simultaneously produces sensation in a different modality. Synesthetes hear colors, feel sounds, and taste shapes.” The Guardian reports that famous people with Synaesthesia include Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams, and the Finnish composer Sibelius. They state that at least 4.4% of adults have this neurological condition.
When making art, Eric relies on music to help stimulate and inspire his creative mind. “Old classic romantic black and white movies I find inspiring to my work. It’s a holistic experience when I’m in an art session. I’m experiencing multiple senses (sounds, smells, and emotions).”
Over time, Eric’s process has changed, and he’s improved his skills with gridding work and utilizing his materials of choice. To him, art represents frustration and love.
HAC employee Laura Nagle has a diverse artistic background and continues to make art when not working at the front desk.
“As a kid, I developed a knack for drawing,” she states. “I was the kid that would spend the entire class doodling all over my assignments. Creating continues to be almost a compulsion for me to this day.”
Laura expanded her artistic abilities in high school as a visual arts major at Cab Calloway School of the Arts. In 2017, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine art from the University of Delaware.
Outside of work, Laura draws, paints, and currently teaches ceramics part-time to children at the Center for the Creative Arts in Yorklyn. “I get a lot of inspiration from my students because children often have very unique and unexpected ideas,” she explains.
Over time, Laura’s practice has changed. “I started off solely with drawing. By the end of high school, I considered myself to be more of a painter, and by the end of college, I was working almost entirely in 3D, making intricate ceramic pieces and large-scale sculptural mixed media projects. I even dabbled in animation for a little while.”
Most of Laura’s artwork isn’t created with a specific intention, but she frequently draws meaning to her pieces once they are completed. “I usually create art for the process itself rather than the finished product,” she states. Laura cites that most of her work is inspired by the world around her, frequently utilizing motifs from the human form and nature.
To Laura, art provides a way to express herself, imagine her future, reflect on the past, and meditate. “[Art] often brings my subconscious ideas to the surface and lets me rethink situations from a different perspective,” Laura states. “Art is an escape for me.”