Fender Bender

Mixing metal with creativity to honor Henry Ford’s 150th anniversary

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Car fenders are used for functionality and flair. They keep dirt and debris away from the wheels and other vital parts, while covering a vehicle framework’s naughty bits.

But through a Dearborn Community Arts Council project, “Fender Bender 2013,” area residents might see fenders in a new, artistic light.

The basis of Fender Bender project, co-sponsored by the city of Dearborn, is for participants to create indoor and outdoor fender sculpture pieces — but the project needs the public’s participation. Currently a handful of artists and local college students have expressed an interest in participating.

The DCAC has several goals in mind for the project: to honor the 150th anniversary of Henry Ford’s birth, born on July 30, 1863; to expose art to the greater Dearborn area; and to encourage prospective business and community-based partnerships.

DCAC Executive Director Stella Greene said the Fender Bender project is one of many ongoing DCAC artistically inspired initiatives that help bring the community together.

“(This project says) that we value our community and we recognize this as a vital force,” Greene said. “There are so many creative people around to take something as funky as a fender and make it into something creative. I think that appeals to everyone.”

In mid-November interested participants may pick up a fender design concept application at the DCAC office located on the first floor of the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave.

Feb. 15, 2013, is the fender concept design deadline, at which point the DCAC is asking fender design participants to turn in a sketch and written description of their fender sculpture.

After the DCAC notifies the design winners on Feb. 28, the winners may start creating their fender sculptures; the winners have until the end of June 2013 to create their sculptures, which will remain on display throughout the greater Dearborn area from July through the fall.

Greene said based on sponsorship funding, the DCAC will select between 18 and 24 winners. Sponsorship is a minimum of $300, half of which will go to the creators.

“The money would help defray the costs for the creators and enable us to do a professional job of promotion with the materials,” Greene said. “All of our creators will be reimbursed to some degree.”

Greene said the 2012-13 Fender Bender Advisory Committee, made up of 10 local business and city representatives, came up with the sculpture concept.

“Fenders seemed like a natural kind of fit,” she said. “It wasn’t so large a portion of the car that (designing it would be) difficult and fenders are identifiable. And ‘fender-bender’ had a nice twist to it.”

Guideline components for the sculpture design include using one full fender or any additional parts of other fenders. Additional materials such as paint, metal or wood may be used to complete the piece; also the sculpture should be light enough for two individuals to transport by hand.

Although no specific locations for the sculptures have been determined, Greene said she hopes that sponsors and others interested parties will want to display the sculptures at or inside their business.

“We are hopeful, with the help of our (advisory) committee, to identify locations throughout the greater Dearborn area, such as in front of City Hall, in front of the performing arts center and, open spaces in front of parks and so forth,” Greene said.

Greene said she wants the sculpture locations to garner visual interest.

“This initiative is to make (the sculptures) accessible to people and get them involved and see that art isn’t separate from the average person,” Greene said. “You can take something as commonplace as a car fender and make it exciting, dynamic and a part of what (people) can identify with.”

The DCAC will also host a fender sculpture “Preview p’ART’y” from 2 to 5 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Ford Center. The DCAC fundraiser opportunity costs $15 and reservations are requested.

The event will showcase a fender sculpture creation by six Henry Ford Community College students under the instruction of HFCC’s Welding Technology Department Lead Instructor Kevin Ridge.

Ridge said showcasing the sculpture at the party might give other participants an idea of what to make for their own sculptures.

Ridge and his student design team already have an idea of what they plan to create.

“It was a hard thing to do to try to figure out what we wanted to do,” Ridge said. “The idea is to take fenders and turn them into a jigsaw puzzle. I think it is going to be a neat concept.”

Ridge, who has never worked with a fender before, said his team will create from two fenders a double-sided metal jigsaw puzzle pieces that are welded together and suspended in air.

“Hopefully people will find it interesting and hopefully the piece says what we want it to,” Ridge said.

For more information on the Fender Bender 2013 project or to make a reservation for the “Preview p’ART’y” call 313-943-3095, email Greene at sgreene@ci.dearborn.mi.us or go to www.dearbornfordcenter.com/communityfund/.

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at skolade@bewickpublications.com.)