ARTisSpectrum Vol. 31, May 2014 - page 75

ARTisSpectrum | Volume 31 | artisspectrum.com
75
The next year the venue changed. I had to find a way to create new sets and large backdrops as what they had used in the
past was now too bulky and heavy for the new stage. I was able to enlist the help of my favorite engineer to create a sturdy
yet lightweight portable set. There are few willing and able to construct, transport, erect, manage and take down a set
for a one night performance, and so this is where I have found my niche. I have created both abstract and realistic drops
and props, mostly from canvas and cardboard. The talent show is SNR’s biggest fundraiser, so they try to spend as little as
possible. The small budget is used for snacks and beverages that can be sold in addition to admission to fund programs.
I only have the items, materials and
labor that are donated or available
to recycle or repurpose. I find ways
to give the “Broadway” feel that the
staff aims for, under the constraints
of the borrowed venue and the
few volunteers who are willing
to be stagehands (not a popular
job due to the limited view of the
performance). Every year I rise to a
new challenge, and try to elevate
the sets and props to inspire a
more advanced performance. Every
year our special stars for the night
have bigger smiles. I never would
have thought that I would be using
my art to fill my void and elevate a
special group of people – and doing
this all at the same time.
Testing a prop idea
Danny Campell’s Near-Fatal Accident Inspired His Awareness Campaign
My father and uncles were all junk collectors and as a kid I explored their findings. Their collection of objects left a great
impression on me. I use the statement, “One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure” quite often to define what my work is
about. I felt like a kid in a candy store when I was allowed to investigate all the diverse and fascinating things they’d pick
up – and that appreciation for the discarded, and what you can do with it, has never left me.
Then, one night, I was traveling home from work on interstate 285. I was driving behind an eighteen wheeler and the right
rear tire blew out. The noise was terrifyingly loud, and all I could see what this tire tread coming right at me through my
windshield. At the very last moment, it skated down the top of my vehicle instead… I pulled over, shaken but alive, and
aware that it had been a very close call.
This incident made a great impression on me, leaving me with nightmares and difficulty sleeping. I had suddenly realized
the grave danger represented by these objects, which you can see all over the place as you drive. After a few weeks, I
returned to the spot where I had nearly died – and there was the tire tread, lying by the road. I kicked it around for a while,
and then threw it on the back of my truck and drove off into the evening air. The healing process had begun.
I began to spend time most weekends collecting tire treads left on the highways and roadways, and researching what had
happened to me. I discovered that there are thousands of deaths on the road caused by tire treads – they’re not safe to
leave lying around! A recent study found that 25% of the deaths on our nation’s highways are from tire treads and other
non-automobile debris on the roadways.
“Since my own life was spared, I feel I have been given the chance
to go out and pick up the objects which might kill someone else,
and to educate others about the very real risks that they present.”
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