MANLIUS — Some of Bureau Valley art teacher Sheila Heth’s high school students are looking beneath the surface at this year’s presidential and vice presidential candidates. With every presidential election, Heth teaches her students about the art of political caricature, an exaggerated form of drawing that shows more than just a person’s physical features. Heth said when she starts the project, the students study caricaturists Honoré Daumier and Thomas Nast. “Then we talk about what a caricature is, and then we go through all the different pen and ink techniques,” Heth said. The students then get to choose one of the four main candidates for the two offices. “They have to do a little research on what their candidate is all about because then I want them to put some of that, whether it’s pro or con, in the picture,” Heth said. Student Daniel Trone said a caricature can pick on a person with insecurities or the things they do. “It points out things that are wrong or things that are really good about the person,” he said. Classmate Hope Wollerman said a good caricature can teach people things about a candidate. “There are sometimes secrets about the candidates that people didn’t normally know,” she said. Daniel chose Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan for his caricature. “I picked the person I knew the least about, so I could do a little research and kind of know what he’s doing,” he said. Daniel said everyone talks about Ryan being a young, fresh face for the Republican Party, so he dressed him as a baby, complete with a rattle. “I kind of gave him a dumbfounded look like he didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “And he’s dragging his little blanket over the word ‘Medicare’ because he didn’t agree with that.” Hope chose the senior half of the Republican ticket. “I did Mitt Romney because I like him as a candidate, compared to who we have in office now,” she said. Hope said she focused on Romney’s plan for 20 percent tax cuts and his ability to beat the Democrats. “Here’s the Democratic Party — which is the donkey— and he’s whipping that out of there and bringing new stuff in,” she said of her artwork. Classmate Amber Shipp chose President Barack Obama. “I wanted him to look older because after four years in office, he does look a lot older, and he’s gone through a lot of stress,” she said. So Amber drew a picture of the current, older-looking, Obama holding a mask showing how he looked younger four years ago. “And then I have him holding the health care reform and all the money falling out of it because of how expensive it is,” she said. Heth ended up being the one to draw Vice President Joe Biden’s caricature because no one in the class wanted to draw him. Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.
Taking a different look at the candidates
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