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July 24, 2014     Superior Express
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~lk Page 8 The Leader The Week of July 21, 2014 of Kansas. ' Erika grew up in Missouri. As a In Kansas, she came to the com- child, she lived near a town which munity of Lucas which had be- ll d riti g ing or if they are outgoing by na- had painted its water towerto look come a center of grassroots art. an w n turf. like a giant billiard ball. In fact, it "The town was so open and wel- Continued from page 7 If you have any questions or was called the World's Largest 8 coming," Erika said. She volun- comments please contact me at: Ball. Her grandparents lived up teered at theGrassrootsArtCenter new state with all new kids I was Sandra@writefacts.com or Write north near the supposed home of andthenfoundahousenextdoorto really scared. I was withdrawing FactsLLC,356E3rdSt Superior, emotionally and did not want to Paul Bunyan and the Babe the big Lucas' Garden of Eden. It was such meet more new people. When I Neb 68978. blue ox. Perhaps those experiences a good value that she bought the was withdrawing I was in my corn- shaped an early appreciation of house and stayed. fo. zone was in aself-protected Kansas artist unusual, oversized artifacts. Erikacontinues to travel exten- mode emotionally. Between my Erika got her bachelor of f'me sively. She is a part of the Kansas mother.and the teacher constantly studies 'big' a. degr fromCentralMissou Humanities Council speakers bu- correcting me, I finally changed State University and an MFA from reau and the Kansas Arts Commis- my writing back to what it used to attractions the .niversity of Kansas She en- siou onTourroster Asawork- look like. It changed to be a bit joyedthecreativeandunusual.Her ingartist, she is involved in vafious bigger in size and slanted to the By Ron Wilson first public art endeavor was a Spam public art projects such as commu- fight. What is the Next Big Thing? carving workshop. "I always had a nity murals. She has created exhib- Now as a handwriting specialist Maybe it is the World' s Largest soft spot in my heart for these odd, its as far away as Philadelphia and I would Suggest to the teacher and Thing. Today, in the third and final offbeat things (such as I had seen as at the Boca Raton Museum of Art parent to find out why the child .~ partgf0ui'ser~son grassroots art, a child)," Erika said. She started in Florida. was afraid to reach out to others we frill m~t "~n artist who has traveling to visit those attractions In2007, she createdanon-profit emotionally and why the childdid developed a specialty in the World' s whichmightbetermedtheWorld's organization relating to history, not readily respond to those around Largest Things. When she' s not on Largest Things. preservation, production and pro- her/him. To me as a handwriting the road, this artist can be found in "I was mapping and recording motion of the distinctive roadside specialist I would also suggestthat rural Kansas. these as I traveled," Erika said. attractions known as the World's the child be treated with kindness Erika Nelson is a visionary art- "Then I wanted souvenirs and re- Largest Things. These are those and tenderness because harsh criti- ist, national researcher and speaker minders of them, so I started mak- unusual artifacts such as the cism can make the situation worse, on the topic of roadside attractions ing small replicas." Using her ar- World' s Largest Ball of Twine as I realize today handwriting is not suchastheWorld'sLargestThings, tistic talents, she started making found in the rural community of as important in schools as in years As an expert in grassroots art, it is Cawker City, Kansas, population past, but even printing will be able fitting that she makes her home in small models of these distinctive 510 people. Now, that's rural. to indicate that a child is withdraw- Lucas, the Grassroots Art Center landmarks. Erika's travels have literally . ~i:i~::;:i/:/ ! !i:i!iii t F m m m I ~ m m m I m @llmlmJ 1~ See new building at! sf.r Et L G SVSr .SI 1204 Road 17 I Sentinel Imildtn s are known for their [ ! strong attention to d ll and design that [ Geneva, NE I offer maximum functmnality at a i -. - - -- : . -. - - . d possible price. Use only the finest and mostdurable tutorials and components available, They are designed with your input to be beautiful, functional and the value your money In the Industry. Rock Solid - libuu:k Solid lid Corn Rock Solid Support drop i- Sentinel Buildings Over:head and Bi-Fold Doors i" Custom Panel Systems i" Variety of Insulations Liner Panel Packages [. Catwalks and i ri:fii!iii:: = taken her coast to coast m her quest to study these attractions. For ex- ample, the World' s Largest Box of Raisins is foundin Kingsburg, Cali- fornia, the World's Largest Ketchup Bottle is found at Heinz Park in Pennsylvania, and the World's Largest Beach Ball is in Pensacola, Florida. Erika has cata- logued more than 500 of these re- markable, quirky am'actions around the U.S. She has even appeared on the TV show Conan. One might expect to find more of the World's Largest Things in Texas, but that state ranks third behind California and Minnesota. (Kansas has a very respectable 17.) As mentioned, Erika has cre- ated small replicas of these land- marks. That has now become - are you ready for this? - the World's Largest Collection of the World' s Smallest Versions of the World' s Largest Things. Erika has created a traveling road show which displays this remarkable collection. She also consults with community members who want to create their own ver- sion of the World' s Largest some- thing. "For many communities, these things can be a point of pride or hope," Erika said. For more information, and the entire list of biggies, go to www.worldslargestthings.com. What is the Next Big Thing? Maybe it is the World's Largest Thing. We commend Erika Nelson for supporting grassroots art and helping communities grow their identity through the World's Larg- est Things. Such larger-than-life symbols can make a big differ- ence. Ron Wilson is director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University. 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