Sunday, August 17, 2003

Medussa goes a little batty

Best of the Bats

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Sculptor Daryl Johns answered the phone early one morning and oops . . . his sister-in-law Gayle Shova had a request: Carve a 400-pound Medusa face for E.H. Greene intermediate school, where she's an educational assistant.

"It was early. I wasn't awake. I said yes."

The result is REDusa Medusa, second-place winner in Tempo's Best of the Bats Tour.

Johns wasn't the only artist involved. Several hundred Greene fifth- and sixth-graders under the supervision of Shova and art teacher Charlotte Skurow joined in.

The students designed the hair stands (they're baseball bats carved on a lathe and painted by teachers), selected the colors and in many cases supervised the paint job. That's why all the strands are different.

Young artists Nick Pavloff and Marci Rhodes did hair strands; Jacqueline Pavloff, Nick's twin, did Medusa's eyes.

"But it was a school-wide project," Skurow adds, "You should have seen how morose the students were when we moved it out."

Medusa stood in Music Hall during opera season (where the opera Medusa was performed). "I'm from rural Shelby County. You can't imagine the thrill of seeing my work there," Johns says.

Sponsor: E.H. Greene PTO.

Home field: Tiffany's lobby.

Inspiration: Classes were studying Greek mythology and decided to tie the project and school work together.

Time elapsed: About 100 hours sculpting for Johns, then two months for the students working before and after school.

The fun part: Going to the opera and standing by her, listening to the comments was one. Another was when parents, neighbors, the whole community would drop in to check progress.

The hard part: She kept growing. By the time all the hair-bats were in, she was too big to fit through the art room door. "We had to devise a way to make her portable," Johns says.

The scary part: "We were worried sick she was going to fall over on the children, especially with the first base we tried. Phil (Hackett, principal) was supportive, but he did tell us we had to lock her in the computer room," Skurow says.

Materials: A pine log for the face; 25 bats (some broken in half) making up 45 strands of Medusa hair; copper wiring and paint.

Find more about Bats Incredible Online.

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