Twenty-one submarine sculptures filled the gymnasium at Ella T. Grasso Southeastern Connecticut Technical High School Friday afternoon, the inventive and colorful designs by local artists only partially visible under blue plastic sheets .
The fleet of subs, part of the public art project the CT Sub Trail, were set to be revealed Friday night at a private event at the school celebrating the local artists and their whimsical creations. The CT Sub Trail is a part of the Connecticut’s Submarine Century year-long celebration in honor of the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first submarines at the United States Naval Submarine Base New London. The celebration runs through October.
Some participants took the art project literally and created designs reflecting nautical themes while others produced colorful creations using mixed media, acrylic paint and spray paint.
Joy Supples, the founder and art director for the CT Sub Trail, said she was struck by the diversity of the project.
“People will come in and say, ‘Oh, that’s my favorite.’ Then go to the next one and say, ‘No wait, that’s my favorite.’ It’s like being a kid in a candy store. There’s something for everyone here,” she said.
Supples is also an art teacher at Grasso Tech. Three of the submarines were designed by students at the high school.
Michael Whittle, a rising senior, created the design for the “Submarine, Submarine” sculpture. His design was a replica of a sub sandwich. Pictures of tomato, bread and lettuce, were cut out and layered on top of each other to create the sandwich lookalike.
“I created the design as kind of a joke and then it got accepted. It turned out better than I could have ever imagined,” Whittle said. He and close to 30 students worked for weeks cutting out the pictures.
Artists submitted their design ideas to the CT Sub Trail Art Selection Committee. Once the designs were approved the artists picked up their fiberglass sculpture in May and had one month to paint their designs.
Chip Adams, of West Hartford, created a replica of the very first submarine ever constructed, the American Turtle, with his sculpture, “Ode to the American Turtle.” The submarine was first built in 1775 by David Bushnell as a means to fight against the British Royal Navy vessels during the American Revolutionary War.
Painting his design took just a total of 12 hours since he used spray paint, Adams said. To give the look of worn wood, he spray painted the piece brown, then took a comb through the wet paint.
“This was a lot of fun,” he said.
Sponsors, including Mohegan Sun and Electric Boat, paid $5,000 each. The entire fleet will be showcased in Groton’s 4th of July Parade.
After that, the sponsors will collect the pieces to place them on public display in locations throughout the region. The free CT Sub Trail phone app, created in conjunction with the project, lays out the location of each of the sculptures, the name and picture of the artist and an artist’s message behind the piece.
Proceeds from the CT Sub Trail will go to USS Groton Sail Foundation, which is committed to providing a public monument dedicated to the men and women who design, build and serve on submarines.
Read the article on the Norwich Bulletin’s website here.