First Posted: 10/14/2014
Keystone College graduate Alex Seeley enjoyed many aspects of the school’s glass blowing program, but one in particular especially impacted him: the emphasis on teamwork.
“For the most part,” said the 26-year-old Lake Ariel artist, “everyone in the studio relies on each other to make their vision come alive, and I think that is pretty cool.”
Now, as a 2012 alumnus fighting cancer, he is experiencing that sense of teamwork in a new way.
A portion of the proceeds from this year’s Keystone Glass Pumpkin Sale, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 22 on the third floor of the Hibbard Campus Center, will go toward Seeley’s treatment costs.
Glass pumpkins, according to James Harmon, head of the glass program at Keystone, are currently “the” fundraiser for glass studios in America and Europe.
“They are relatively easy to make,” he said, “and the variety is endless. The use of two optic molds and colored glass and you can make hundreds of pumpkins, all individual and unique designs. It seems no one can get enough of them – people have pumpkin collections.”
He said most of the glass pumpkins to be sold Oct. 22 are about the size of a softball and will fit in one’s hand.
Traditionally, funds from the annual event are split 50/50 between participating students and the studio, but this year the artists agreed to also use the money to assist a friend.
“Keystone is a pretty close school,” said Michael Swanson, a 2006 Keystone graduate and current glass studio technician, “and a lot of students and alumni stay friends forever. When you see a friend who needs help, you try and help. I think that is why a lot of people are doing this.”
Swanson has known Seeley for more than five years and trained him in glass blowing. He said one thing which always stood out to him about his friend is Seeley’s art.
As a professional photographer, Seeley has a resume and portfolio that include work for several local media outlets, including The Abington Journal. He is often found displaying his photographs during Scranton’s First Friday Art Walk and other local exhibitions. His work can be viewed online at alexseeley.zenfolio.com.
“He is a very skilled artist,” Swanson said. “I have seen photography everywhere and I don’t usually get too excited about it. Alex’s work stood out. I was impressed.”
But it’s not only Seeley’s artwork that stands out.
“He has always been a great person to talk to,” Swanson continued. “And I really appreciate his sense of humor, which he keeps about him even now.”
Harmon only recently met Seeley, but knows many who speak highly of him.
“He has a good attitude and an easy personality,” he said.
Harmon added this type of showing of support is an important aspect of the Keystone College community and, although it may not seem like a lot, “every little bit helps.”
Seeley expressed his gratitude for the “overwhelming support” flowing in from friends, family and even strangers, after learning of the cancer’s return.
He was originally diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a childhood cancer, in 2001 at age 12 and, after a year of chemotherapy and radiation at Hershey Medical Center, was declared cancer-free. Then in spring of this year, he noticed a lump on his arm. Since that time, he is again receiving chemotherapy treatments and “feeling optimistic.”
“It means so much to me to have such a strong support system behind me,” he said. “I’ve got some incredibly talented friends and I’m honored that they’re using those talents to help me out.
“I’m incredibly thankful for the support that I’ve received. This has been a rough year, but the difficulties have helped me realize how lucky I am to be surrounded by awesome people, and that’s what I’m taking away from this experience.”