When elementary students walk in the Commons Area in the Ben-Gil Elementary School after getting off the bus or after grabbing lunch, they will see a three-dimensional mascot hanging from the wall.
The 70-pound sculpture was an art project for former art teacher Morrie Giaudrone who thought students should have a 3-D mascot. The sculpture is of a young Bengal tiger purposely created to represent a young, non-intimidating tiger. “It is symbolic of our young elementary students, kindergarten through fifth grade,” Giaudrone explained.
Giaudrone created the sculpture because he loved the 3-D plane that was in his study hall during his high school days in Gillespie. “I looked at that every day,” he said of the plane, “It was something I related to and I loved airplanes. I really looked forward to going to the study hall to see the airplane.”
The young tiger was more of an art project by Giaudrone than a taxidermy project as no animals were harmed in the process of the recreation.
Assistant Superintendent Joe Tieman said Giaudrone’s work is phenomenal and it was all his idea. “It is something our kids can look up to,” Tieman said of the donation, “It’s just fabulous, I love it.”
“I did not want to make this an intimidating animal,” Giaudrone continued, “I sculptured a young tiger to relate to the young students.” The tiger, which lacks claws and teeth, is mounted high on a wall where it overlooks the entire Commons Area. The tiger is standing on a rock ledge, which Giaudrone also sculpted, with foliage and other habitat surroundings.
The sculpture started out as a plastic mannequin before Giaudrone placed an artificial skin sculpture over it. He then texturized the hair and used over 11 transparent coats of paint to make it look realistic. The mannequin was a donation from Research Mannequins in Ava, Illinois to Giaudrone and all of Giaudrone’s work, which consisted of 80 hours of work, was his contribution to the school.
“The district was nice to me. It was a good job, the people were nice, the students were good and I enjoyed it,” he closed, “I felt I should contribute something to inspire students. I am quite pleased with it.”
Giaudrone spent 38 years of his life teaching and has over 56 years of experience doing taxidermy work. He currently runs his own business, Giaudrone’s Animal Artist, from his home in Gillespie. He is working on a Bengal tiger painting for the school, but the location for it has yet to be determined.
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