Story and Photos by: Obie Nutt
There are plenty of things in Tuscaloosa that can grab your attention. From the massive stadiums scattered around campus to some of the larger apartment buildings, you probably will find yourself looking up at beautiful buildings all around you. But, every once in a while, it’s a good idea to look down. Look closely at that sidewalk corner, that concrete pad a spotlight sits on, and that soil around a tree along the road. You might spot these little monsters, small sculptures that began their journey to reality in the minds of elementary schoolers around Tuscaloosa.
Kids sketched their ideas for monsters and provided a small description. Next, local artists rendered their ideas and turned them in to tiny sculptures that were spread around a few places in Tuscaloosa. What’s more, some of these sculptors were actually students in the public art sculpture class right here at the University of Alabama.
Without further ado, here are the monsters I was able to find after walking around late one night. There are plenty more for you to find on your own, though. In fact, at least ten are out there right now, just waiting for you to stumble upon them.
Sally Poole is a first grader from Tuscaloosa Academy, and she already has two of her creations decorating Tuscaloosa. With the help of JenX’s rendering and sculptor Anne Smith Reeves, her monsters have found their way into the wild. I was only able to find their second contribution, though.
The yellow cube “monster” next to Sally’s is a little guy I made almost ten years ago. I keep him on my desk whenever I hunker down to work, so I figured he deserves a little vacation. As you can see, he made a few friends along the way.
A second grader from Holt Elementary came up with this hungry monster. Lili Gann sketched out the idea and described him as a potato monster that loves cookies. I feel comfortable saying artist Haylee Marie Walker and sculptor Kalypso Homan delivered. That is definitely a potato monster eating a cookie.
This was the only monster I came across that wasn’t connected to the actual ground. Gann’s monster is on a raised piece of concrete towards the edge of a sidewalk along University Boulevard. That made this little guy probably the easiest to spot of the five I was able to find. Putting him on full display makes sense, too. Who wouldn’t want to see him chowing down on that cookie?
Natalie Nelson, a second grader from Tuscaloosa Academy, submitted her design for her monster and included the following description: “These two are ghosts. That’s like a zombie there. I saw it in a show before. But it was an alligator and a moose.”
It seems like the ghosts and zombie got left on the cutting room floor, but the alligator-moose mashup is shown here in all its glory. Heidi Wilcox and Sarah Murphree rendered and sculpted Nelson’s monster, respectively. Unlike these other monsters I came across, Nelson’s monster looks up at you, almost daring you to look back. I’ll be honest, I get a little bit more of a vicious vibe from this sculpture than the others.
I kept my cube guy away just in case.
Holt Elementary second grader Jordyn Green is this monster’s master. Along with artist Nita Risher McGlawn and sculptor Maddie Kennedy, Green unleashed this monster onto Government Plaza. Coincidentally, another monster in this story was also found in Government Plaza, although I won’t be giving any more clues than that. Finding out which one that is will be up to you.
My yellow monster is back again, and just look at that smile. These two little guys are having the time of their lives.
Finally, we have reached the Unknown Monster. No one has claimed this monster on the Monster Takeover official website. In fact, it is not even listed as of February 23rd. This little mutant caught my eye as I was heading back home, and I just could not pass up the opportunity to document first and ask questions later.
Until someone comes forward as this monster’s creator, questions about how it came to be will be asked across Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the entire country, and possibly the entire world. Who helped bring this giant mouth into existence? Could the other monsters have created it themselves to increase their numbers? For now, all eyes are on the small patch of sidewalk off University Boulevard where the Unknown Monster resides.