- Associated Press - Monday, May 30, 2016

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) - A collage of broad stripes, bright stars and images of liberty adorn Bristol native Katie Haire’s fiberglass donkeys, that will greet visitors at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

A 2006 graduate of Bristol Eastern High School, Haire is now a high school art teacher in North Philadelphia.

She entered her portfolio and description of her work in February to Philadelphia’s artjawn.com site and became one of 30 people chosen for this year’s Donkeys Around Town initiative, welcoming convention attendees.

Haire called the donkey project “probably the biggest freelance work I’ve gotten to date. Though, I did paint a food truck recently.”

Fifty-seven life-size, gray fiberglass donkeys will represent the fifty states, Washington, D.C. and six U.S. territories at the July convention, and will be displayed for the full month at sites throughout Philadelphia. States were randomly assigned, and Haire was given Montana and New York.

“I went on a really brief road trip around the United States and I loved it, like Glacier National Park and the mountains there are really beautiful,” Haire said. “There’s lots of purple, too. The light, the highways, the way they snake through the mountains there. Overall there is a purple cast.”

For Haire, politics plays a secondary role to artistic expression. “Yes, I’m kind of interested in politics- my mother certainly is, which is why she is beside herself that I’m doing this,” she laughed. “My mom’s a strong Democrat. I’m independent. I can’t vote in the primaries and that really grinds her gears.”

Haire acknowledged it might have been more artistically compelling for her to paint elephants.

“I just think it would have been more interesting,” she said. “And I would have done it. I’m a working artist, and it’s a job with a lot of exposure.”

A major plus of this project is that it will give Haire an opportunity to work with other artists, she said.

“It’s all going to be done in Philly. We start around June 15,” she said. “All the artists will be working together in a large studio near the water in South Philly.”

Haire said in addition to painting the fiberglass donkeys and teaching, she hopes to work on other projects.

“When I go home from school, I don’t necessarily want to draw,” she said. “But I do, because I try to bring in artwork (to class), so kids can see that people make money from art.”

Haire’s portraits are featured online at katiehaire.com, where fans can also see a preview of her Democratic donkey.

“Think about it, from the chair you’re sitting in to the water bottle you drink out of, they all started out as drawings,” she said. “Art is a lifelong thing.”

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Information from: The Bristol Press, https://www.bristolpress.com


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