CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — The Community Gallery, located outside Penn State Lehigh Valley's Ronald K. De Long Gallery, currently features artists Heidi Hooper and Marissa Grello — two creatives who have faced challenges in their respective artistic abilities.
"Since the removal of most of my right arm muscle to cancer, I thought my career as an artist — a metalsmith and jeweler — had ended," said dryer lint artist Heidi Hooper. "I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University’s sculpture department and then studied for my master’s at the Massachusetts College of Art (and even taught there for a while). My work was seen in galleries around the country.
"In a move that surprised even me, I ended up making art from dryer lint," said Hooper. "As I progressed, my work became increasingly complicated and more detailed. I have since become the world’s premier dryer lint artist. Consumer Reports calls me 'The Andy Warhol of Dryer Lint.' 'Ripley’s Believe it or Not' features my work in their museums and in their books.
"After so many years of sadness with my cancer treatments, I like to laugh. It pleases me when people say 'dryer lint?'" Hooper said. "It’s definitely funny to consider what the art is made of, and my work has always had that thread of humor throughout it."
"I made art from as young as I can remember," said acrylic artist and Penn State class of 2020 alum Marissa Grello. "I taught myself how to paint with acrylics in my teens and fell in love. Sadly, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in the beginning of 2013, two weeks before my 21st birthday. Art helped me get through the two years of being completely bedridden.
"Over time, I started to lose to the ability to paint," added Grello. "My hands are always shaking and I struggle holding things. I didn't paint for years thinking it was a total loss for me and my dreams. In 2022, I stumbled across a painting technique that allowed me to use acrylic again and I cried when I came across scrape art. I can finally express myself through art again. I am a 2020 Penn State graduate and am proud to show the art I have created."