Thursday, October 30, 2008

Press Release: Art Students Learn About Politics Through Pumpkin Fest Project

STATESVILLE, NC – Art students at the American Renaissance Middle School in Statesville learned first-hand a little about the political process this past week. They were chosen to draw political candidates’ faces on pumpkins for a pumpkin chunkin’ event designed to “predict” the outcome of this year’s election.
On Friday, October 24, a media preview was held to promote the Statesville Crossroads Pumpkin Fest. The idea was to catapult pumpkins drawn up to look like candidates. Those that landed the farthest “won.”
“A similar event was held in 2004 that drew an increased number of people to the festival,” said media preview organizer Greta Lint. She is providing public relations services for the Statesville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We call the media preview The Great Heads of Statesville Exit Poll. The results get the media’s attention – which translates to promotion for the street festival,” she explained.
“In 2004, we used a local characteurist. This time, we had an opportunity to provide local students with a chance to learn how to draw on a sphere and feel involved in the political process,” she added.
Principal Steve Gay and art instructor Ashely Bell paved the way for the students’ involvement. Lint provided thirty 3 – 3 ½ pound pumpkins, photos, material for blue and red capes and a sample Iredell County ballot.
Bell said the class was very excited when she explained the project.
“Most of them were familiar with presidential, vice-presidential and governor races,” she said. “Some students personally knew some of the county commissioners. But, they learned what the red and blue stood for, as well as what the term incumbent means. And, they learned that a third person was running for president and governor!”
But when it came to the actual drawing, there were some challenges.
“It was difficult to get for them to draw on a non-flat spherical form,” said Bell. “Even though I washed them, it was hard to get a black permanent marker to adhere.” She continued that it took most of the students two days to draw and paint the heads. They used tempera paints because it easily washes out of clothing.
“Students said the Obama, Palin and McCain faces were the easiest ones to draw,” she explained.” But as in all portrait work, the nose and mouth were the most difficult.”
Even though the political pumpkin chunkin’ event was held on a teachers’ work day, some of the students and parents attended. After the McCain pumpkin flew out of the catapult and landed 81 yards away, young artist Morgan Dixon picked it up and reviewed the damage. “It was tough. Didn’t bust.” When she learned that this event is held only in years with a general election, she was disappointed. According to organizer Joel Leonard, she was encouraged that perhaps she could help build the trebuchet at Mitchell Community College and that her siblings will be old enough to paint the candidates in 2012.
The students’ pumpkins will be on display during the Crossroads Pumpkin Fest on Saturday, November 1 in downtown Statesville.

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