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On the Bright Side

September 6, 2012

Glimmerglass vine elephants headed to Norwich


The "Aida" elephants that spent this summer at the Glimmerglass Festival Opera House have found a new home in Norwich. 
In an online auction, Bill Smith placed the winning bid of $3,900. The money raised will be split between Glimmerglass Festival Opera House and the artist who created the elephants, Elizabeth Schoonmaker. 
The auction opened for bids the same night as "Aida" (July 7) closed Aug. 25, the end of this year's opera season. Smith plans on placing the elephants on his lawn along with some other sculptures he has on a hill. 
The idea for the elephants formed after Schoonmaker showed the Development Director at Glimmerglass Festival Opera House Tara Sumner a photo of similar animals she had created and placed on her lawn. 
"One of them was an elephant," Sumner said, "so I sent the picture to Francesca (Zambello, the Glimmberglass general artistic director). I said, 'I know everybody is asking about 'Aida' whether we're going to have elephants on the stage. Maybe we could have some outside.' And she said, 'Good idea.' So that's how it all started." 
Schoonmaker began creating the elephants March 20 and worked on them every day except three until June 26. 
"It's a rebar metal frame," Schoonmaker said. "From there, I wrap it with willow then wild grapevines." 
To make the elephants, Schoonmaker gathered cut 40 truckloads of vines and went through 12 pairs of Dollar Store gardening gloves. By the time she was finished, she had made elephants that weighed in somewhere between 800 to 900 pounds, and stood 11 feet high and 17 feet long. According to the Bronx Zoo, that's pretty close to the real thing, with the exception of weight. 
"The whole thing started because it was a way for me to understand how I draw," Schoonmaker said. 

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