Turning Fiberglass into Art: Deer on Parade

All over the Finger Lakes 53 oversized deer have migrated to the region from Nebraska and have been transformed into beautiful works of art by area artists. Each deer is made by hand by Charlie Spencer and his team of fiberglass artisans at Pruitt Fiberglass Animals, a third generation family business out of Gibbon, Nebraska. Just having these incredible, painted works of art for anybody to see is not enough. This community arts project will also raise a considerable amount of money for the Finger Lakes Community College Foundation, sponsors of the Deer on Parade project.

Located in Canandaigua, the Finger Lakes Community College is one of the region’s biggest educational hubs, with over 4,000 students every year. Overlooking the lake, the 250-acre campus, with satellite centers in Victor, Newark, and Geneva, has set the standard for community colleges across the state. The Finger Lakes Community College Foundation helps set that standard by providing the college with scholarships and funding for various programs. The Foundation is always looking for ways to raise money, and after seeing similar community arts projects produce a considerable amount of funds throughout the country they were encouraged to do it in their own back yard.

Found throughout the Finger Lakes Region, the whitetail deer is one of New York State’s most abundant forms of wildlife. An animal that once provided food and other necessities to Native Americans and early settlers in the 18th century will now provide education for the 21st century.

More than 40 artists have worked on the Deer on Parade community arts project.  All of the artists are local and some have worked on similar projects in the area. Heather Heffernan is one of the artists who has called the Finger Lakes Region her home for many years.  Having worked on last year’s successful Horses on Parade project in Rochester, Ms. Heffernan enjoys working on projects that the whole community can appreciate.

“The Finger Lakes community is what I enjoy being a part of,” said Heffernan. “This project not only allows me to share my art with the community, but it also gives me the opportunity to support such a wonderful institution.”

To provide scholarships to FLCC students is not the only thing the foun­dation wanted to do. They wanted to give the community an event to rally around, and to bring out some of the area’s hidden artists and talents. The community benefits not only from having interesting pieces of art to view, but also from an increase in tourism which will bring greater profits to local businesses, tourist attractions, and restaurants. In addition, many families will use the deer as a fun, social and artistic activity that will bring them to areas of the region they may not have had the opportunity to enjoy. Deer on Parade will let people explore and enjoy all that the region has to offer. Fifty-three deer have been sponsored, and more than 100 designs were submitted for consideration to support the Finger Lakes Community College Foundation.

Area residents can enjoy the summer-long display from May through September 2002. The program will end with a public auction of the deer; date and time will be announced shortly.

by Aris Pinedo
Aris Pinedo has many years of experience working with local broadcast news organizations. He is originally from Long Island, NY and currently resides in Rochester.

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