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A Day At The Zoo

Darlene Benzon

A Day at the Zoo literally started at the Zoo. I've been a docent at the Seneca Park Zoo for the past 5 years, and an artist for most of my life. I am a graphic artist by trade, first at art studios, printers and advertising companies and then as a freelance designer. I have produced many signs and other graphics for the Zoo, and when the Horses on Parade project was announced the Zoo contacted me to see if I would be interested in designing a horse for them. I said yes, of course, and the conceptual stage took place while details were worked out. We ended up with a wonderful partner, Questra.

The subject matter was a given: animals. They have become increasingly important in my personal work and this project gave me a totally different canvas. A general layout was sketched out, the animals seemed to naturally gravitate to their respective sides, Arctic and Tropical. Then I went through my vast collection of photos from Seneca Park Zoo. I put everything into the computer and PhotoShop. Consultation with Scale 2 began as soon as the design process got underway. Rick Crowley has worked on other projects for the Zoo with me and was happy to share his expertise in fabrication and media as well as a large working area for me and the horse. He also airbrushed the background of blue and green. My designs were projected onto the horse with an opaque projector and I plunged into the long forgotten joy of tactile creation. In four weeks, I completed the horse, consigned it to the Elmgrove staging area, and left for another grand hands-on animal experience - a safari in Africa.