Art alumnus Leads Students in Work Purchased by Ripley's
 Smalley bottlecaps small

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum has purchased a 10 foot by 7 foot portrait Corinth Elementary students created from 5,859 recycled bottle caps they collected.

By Scott Powell of the Gaffney Ledger

Filled with nearly 6,000 bottle caps, a large portrait completed by Corinth Elementary students was recently purchased by Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum.

Corinth Elementary received permission from nationally recognized artist Eric Daigh this spring to recreate his push-pin portrait "Harper" for a school art project. The students used 5,859 bottle caps donated by a parent to produce a 10-foot by 7-foot version of Daigh's portrait under the leadership of Corinth Elementary art teacher Eric Smalley. The face shown in the Corinth portrait is actually Daigh's 3rdgrade student son.

Smalley is a Limestone Studio Art graduate and member of the Class of 1998.

Daigh and his wife, Megan, saw the students' artwork April 21 when the artist participated in a Skype video conference with students from his home in Traverse City, Mich. After viewing the artwork, Megan Daigh contacted Corinth Elementary to see if the school would be interested in selling it.

 Eric Smalley

Limestone Studio Art Alumnus
Eric Smalley '98

The bottle cap portrait was purchased from the school for an undisclosed price by Ripley's Believe It or Not. Ripley's owns several of Daigh's push-pin portraits and has the artist's "Harper" work on display at its museum in San Francisco.

Corinth Elementary Principal Brenda Sharts said profits from the sale of the artwork will be used to enhance the art program at Corinth Elementary.

"Eric was so charismatic and genuinely interested in our kids," Sharts said. "We appreciate him taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with our students about his artwork. His wife, Megan, has taken us under her wing and just been phenomenal in helping us through this process as our school has not sold any artwork to a museum before."

The artwork is presently being prepared for shipment next week to the museum in Orlando, Fla., according to Sharts.

"We don't know where it will go once it arrives in Orlando. Ripley's Believe It Or Not has 32 museum locations in in 10 countries, including Thailand," Sharts said. "This is wonderful news for our school. We are really excited about it. Our students plan to sign the artwork before we ship it to the museum as our way of saying thank you."

Corinth Elementary students became familiar with Daigh's push-pin portraits while exploring ways to use recyclable materials in an art project this year.

Smalley said the school is appreciative to the artist for his willingness to share his interest in art with students.

"We are very excited at this new development with Ripley's. This whole experience has been very surreal and continues to awe me," Smalley said. "Eric Daigh is an incredible artist and thanks to his efforts and inspiration, he has helped enrich the lives of the students here at Corinth for years to come."

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