JESSE WHARTON GIRAFFE
Spring Semester 2022
In concert with a school-wide unit on waste and recycling, I was approached by Jesse Wharton Elementary School to create a collaborative sculpture of their school mascot, the giraffe, out of repurposed waste materials. Every student in the school created the giraffe's spots using the lids from their disposable clamshell lunch trays, and the 3rd grade class cut "plarn" (plastic bag yarn) from clear plastic breakfast bags. I used found wood, chicken wire, newspaper papier-mâché, plastic grocery bags, and soda cans to create the six-foot tall giraffe sculpture.
I delivered the giraffe to the school on a special assembly day and began attaching the spots (sewing on the biggest spots with plarn), while throughout the day I gave artist talks to over 20 classes. During the semester, I visited the school once a week to continue attaching over 500 spots. Students and teachers excitedly greeted me and followed my progress as they walked by my outdoor workspace. Students of the 2022-2023 school year will name the Jesse Wharton Giraffe, who now resides in the Media Center.
The Jesse Wharton Giraffe was made possible thanks to the Michael Parrish Endowment for Arts Education, the Jesse Wharton Elementary PTA, and private donors. Special thanks to my studio assistant Olivia Hutton, and Jesse Wharton staff Ms. Durham, Mr. Dovico, Ms. Pendegraph, and Principal Conaway.