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Extraordinary Gifts

Three of Appel Farm’s summer staff were recently published in the book, Extraordinary Gifts: Remarkable Women of the Delaware Valley. This beautiful book, profiles 20 historic (and a couple still-living) women from the Delaware Valley region whose lives have changed the world through the contemporary imaginings of local writers and visual artists. The historic women celebrated in this book include Marian Anderson and Margaret Mead, among others.

Nancy Kern (Creative Writing Instructor) and Jessica Padilla (Head of Visual Arts) chose to honor Louisa May Alcott. In Nancy’s short fiction piece, “What Was Burned?,” she re-imagines the day of the death of Louisa May Alcott. (Or is it Jo March? After all, the character and her creator are so intricately entwined.) In

Jessica’s mixed media piece, she weaves together strips of canvas (another intricate entwining that harkens back to the popularity of weaving among women during Alcott’s life). On one square, Jessica draws a graphite portrait of Alcott. Two other woven rectangles feature paintings of bright orange poppies – a nod to Alcott’s vibrant personality and imagination.

Melissa Tevere (Head of North and Camper Coordinator) was one of the editors of the book as well as a contributor. She chose 20th Century Painter, Alice Neel, to honor. Two of Melissa’s acrylic paintings are included: one is a self-portrait that pays homage to a self portrait that Neel painted late in her life (displayed permanently at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC;) the other is a portrait of two very important people in her life, her children and Appel Farm camper’s, Jacob and Chloe. Neel almost exclusively painted the important people in her life, including her own two sons.

This book is available for sale on