Kids create living Obama portrait

January 8, 2009 5:34:52 PM PST
Almost 800 Chicago school kids got together to help create a portrait of President-elect Barack Obama. Daniel dancer, a nationally known artist, had students from two schools all dress in red, black and white. He then used them as human drops of paint.

Excitement builds on the playground at Alex Haley elementary school. The location is being used as a canvas for artist Daniel Dancer's latest project, a living portrait of President-elect Barack Obama.

To say it is a large-scale piece is an understatement. You have to be in the air to make sense of the image.

"It's so much to pull one of these things off," said Dancer.

Dancer produces similar 'Art for the Sky' projects around the world, drawing on an ancient art form that originated in South America.

But for the portrait, he's heavy on the symbolism, incorporating recycled cans, and children, referencing the environment and education, issues that are central to Obama's platform.

"He's gotta be able to see the big picture. He's gotta be able to see through the eyes of future generations," said Dancer.

Obama's features have been formed out of three different shades of mulch.

And then there are the 800 elementary school kids from Alex Haley and Wendell Smith schools who provide the finishing touch: his hair and suit.

The final product is the result of nearly a week of preparation.

"We did a two day workshop with the children explaining about living art...what we we're doing in a historical context," said Vaida Williams, principal, Alex Haley School.

And the meaning seems to resonate with the students.

"He's a really creative person and I love him 'cause he can change the world for us," said London Rainey.

The image of Obama will stay on the school field, although it might be covered by snow tomorrow. Still, students involved with this project say the experience will stay with them for a lifetime.