On a summery Cincinnati Saturday afternoon, anyone doing a driveby at the Clifton and MLK corner of the University of Cincinnati campus might do a double take.  Is that really a 10ft tall pink flamingo stalking a giant lemonade-sipping duck resplendent on a beach towel with all the amenities one would need at said beach?

One could also spy a land-bound, single masted sailboat, DT(hereafter read Duck Tape®) hats and grass skirts for adventurous selfie takers, and “Travis”, a lumbering oversized sea turtle, whose hulking shell is studded with international landmarks corresponding to a whimsical geography he has visited. I strolled past a horror movie sized, hot pink crustacean; flamboyant, unrestrained and apparently unnoticed by a 21st century Robinson Crusoe, holding a sun reflecting tanning aid under the single coconut tree of his own little island.

Having raised a thirst, I headed toward a Duck Tape® grass fringed bar stool at Jake’s Duck Bar, where the Duck Tape® clock face permanently indicates the Jimmy Buffet 5:00 philosophical preference and the giant duck tip jar states “Tips–Bills only”.  I wandered with my sunkist in the direction of the orchestrator of these efforts.

These interactive sculptural innovations are under the initiative of DAAP Professor Joe Girandola. It is DAAP’s entry in the 12th Annual Avon Heritage Duck Tape® Festival, June 19th – 21st and made possible by ShurTech Brands, LLC, the company that manufactures America’s iconic “fix-all” material in numerous colors, designs and licenses. Duck Tape® Brand duct tape is marketed worldwide with a logo featuring a happy quacker who is kin to Disney’s Donald.

‘”Tropical Vacation” is this year’s sponsor approved theme for accredited participation of DAAP sculpture students. This 4-6 month production is a course titled “Special 3D Materials–Duck Tape®”. The Festival takes place in Avon, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland, attracting more than 60,000 Duck Tape® enthusiasts.

Girandola recounted how during his stonework studies in Florence, Italy, he would wrap his hands to the wrists in duct tape for protection as he chiseled marble and granite sculptures daily. Cutting these tapes from his hands, he reflected on their sculptural quality, and realized that duct tape could be considered as any other material for purposes of construction and manipulation. One thing lead to another, and Girandola began to work in the material, developing large scale frieze drawings in folded duct tape.

As a teaching professor, Girandola stresses the importance of recognizing the unique properties of any material a sculptor decides to work in. Unlike marble and granite, you can peal off and start over with Duck Tape®. Students must present designs for corporate approval and work within corporate perimeters using their trademark products. Students learn about the nature of structure and build armature supports. The problem is not complete without successful transportation and onsite installation and maintenance for the duration of the event.

This festival event certainly qualifies as an unusual road trip destination sure to combine tongue in cheek entertainment with product innovation and lots of quacks.

–Marlene Steele

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