September 19, 2016—Local artist Tori Rodriguez spent more than a year welding the massive metal mastodon for Abram Lansing Elementary School before the sculpture was bolted into place last week.
Using student drawings to guide her work, Rodriguez collected scrap metal from her employer and paid frequent visits to Kelman’s Scrap Metal Recycling—a local Cohoes business—anytime the company had extra scrap they were willing to donate.
“They would call me up say, ‘hey, we have some pieces we think you’d like’ and it was always interesting metal fencing or train track nails or something cool like that,” said Rodriguez.
“I don’t do this full-time—yet,” referring to her art, as she excitedly watched the installation of the mastodon.
The idea for the project began about two years ago, when Rodriguez connected with Abram Lansing Principal Cliff Bird through Choose Cohoes ART, which was an effort to connect Cohoes business owners and community groups with area artists. Abram Lansing’s third graders made and submitted individual sketches of their vision for the mastodon sculpture. Rodriguez then used the sketches to guide her work.
“I definitely used the sketches a lot throughout the process,” said Rodriquez. “For instance, when it came to the trunk, I looked at the sketches to decide if it should be pointing up or tucked under. Most of the sketches had the trunk tucked under, so there’s the trunk, tucked under.”
This year, those third graders are fifth graders. They were incredibly excited to see their visions turned into the impressive fine art sculpture outside their school.
“This is just so much fun,” said Principal Cliff Bird, who was discussing logistics of the unveiling at the school’s open out on September 15. “We just love the piece, and it was a truly awesome experience for our students to ‘work’ with Tori and see her use their ideas to create this big guy.”
The one-of-a-kind Scrapaluffagus stands tall outside the south end entry to the school building. If you have an opportunity for a closer look, be sure to check out all of the different metals and textures. The chain-link tusks are also “pretty cool.”