H-F student’s push pin art leads to award-winning design

  Homewood-Flossmoor High
  School junior Taylor Ausley
  won the top prize in
  Illinois High School Art
  Exhibition.
(Photo by 
  Marilyn Thomas/H-F 
  Chronicle)
 
Homewood-Flossmoor High School junior Taylor Ausley was looking for a unique way to display her creativity.
 
She chose to use the simple push pin.
 
She brought to life a picture of an Indian boy that has won her numerous accolades.
 
Taylor, 16, produced this amazing artwork with an estimated 12,000 colored push pins. It’s won a gold medal in the Illinois High School Art Exhibition at the Zhou-B Gallery in Chicago. She will receive her scholarship to an art school, cash and a gift certificate for art supplies.
 
The portrait also won the Best of Show award at the SWSC Art Festival at Governors State University. It is being entered in the South Shore Show hosted by the Northwest Indiana Arts Alliance.
 
Taylor found a 6-inch by 8-inch picture of an Indian boy drenched in colored powders for Holi, the Hindu festival of colors. 
 
Taylor’s idea of using push pins came from something she saw on Pinterest.com. The idea intrigued art teacher Jackie Wargo. Together they worked on two specific issues: How Taylor would grid the photo into squares for exact measurement, and what she would use as the picture’s foundation. 
 
Wargo had worked with a student last school year on a project that required the same measurement scheme, so she was able to give Taylor pointers. 
 
Creating the grid for the photo took time. Taylor used PhotoShop to determine pixel widths and color placement and she used lots of math calculations for measuring pins per each grid square.
 
For the other problem, Taylor and her teacher worked with H-F shop teacher Bill Merchantz. Push pins are usually used on cork boards, but that wouldn’t hold up for a project that measures 3-feet by 4-feet and required plenty of handling. He suggested Taylor use housing insulation as a support material, and helped her mount the cork onto the stiff backing.
 
For several weeks she worked on the boy’s face, placing and gluing each pin according to the grid squares. It was only after she’d had most of the face done that she found it was a bit smaller than she anticipated. 
 
Wargo said it was then that she realized the 3/8ths-inch diameter of the pin head that Taylor was using was smaller than the half-inch size of pin she measured to.
 
“I had to order bigger pins,” Taylor said. “Really, I had to invent the rest (of the picture)” because of the size of the pins. Her own creative flare filled out the picture so the dimensions match up left and right, top and bottom.
 
And to add to the ongoing creative problems, there are no black pins sold. Taylor had to paint hundreds of the tiny pin heads black. 
 
“Taylor is the perfect example of: If you want something, you keep going,” Wargo said.
 
As the picture neared completion, Wargo and art teacher Greg Petecki bought wood and built a frame for the piece that Taylor painted black.
 
“She has the talent, but she also has a work ethic and standards she works towards that will make her successful,” her teacher said.
 
Taylor, the daughter of Tina Henry and Demond Ausley of Flossmoor, has enjoyed art since fifth grade when she was in the Gifted Art Program at Western Avenue School. 
 
Her Indian boy picture took great concentration and months to create, but she is happy with it, and took pride in people taking selfies with her work at the Chicago art exhibit.
 
With this project complete, Taylor is branching out into drawing and painting. She next wants to try watercolors. She spends time online researching artists.
 
“I only follow people I’m inspired by,” she said. “I watch videos of artists doing things.” 
 
As a student at H-F, Taylor is moving into all the advanced art classes, including the independent art portfolio and the honors art concentration. She plans to go to college to study art.

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