As a pagan, regardless of which branch you are or pantheon you respect, nature plays a huge part in your spirituality. Our holidays revolve around aspects of nature such as solstices and celebrating the seasons.

One of the parts of the Westmoreland Art Museum I love the most are the pieces of art that depict nature in any form. There are paintings of forests and lakes and the coast by the ocean, sculptures of birds, Fraktur pieces with leaves and berries and sometimes animals.

My favorite room in the museum features an entire wall of paintings dedicated to nature, offsetting the opposite wall’s adornment of local Pittsburghian steel mill history. I love the dichotomy in this room, the raw power of American industrialization and the beauty of the Earth that gave birth to it.

Hanging in another room lies my favorite painting: “Silver Thread Falls, Pennsylvania” painted in 1874 by James Brade Sword. It’s a ginormous window (60 x 48 in.) into a tranquil forest scene that works to draw in the viewer and capture them for however long it takes to realize the window is really just a painting. I feel at peace even as I feel watched by the couple next to me who’s talking about which spot they should eat at for lunch: Chinese or Italian. I assume they chose Italian; knowing the expansive Italian population in Greensburg, chances were higher for spaghetti rather than lo mein.

Honestly, the museum building feels so clinical to me, especially for an art museum. But the works of art inside are organic, fresh, and down-to-earth, without any big names or fame to distract from the rawness of the piece.

As I descended the stairs of the museum from that trip, I realized that I hadn’t been to any of the places the paintings inside depicted. I make it my goal to find Silver Thread Falls and visit it some time (it’s about four hours from the Westmoreland). I also make it my goal to return again to the museum.

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