Katie Sollohub is the artist behind an Elephants Tale, an elephant that depicts Katie’s childhood memories of elephants and the first ever elephant to be designed in charcoal.As an artist and a teacher, Katie is inspired by “stuff around me” and her work is autobiographical. She looks at objects around her, she is interested in others and likes to get involved, stories, people and places, simply described as “getting know someone.”
Katie was invited to submit a design for the UK Elephant Parade tour in January 2013. Her design was complex and based on narrative drawings. Katie’s interest in things, her life and elephants in particular came across in her design. It was quite unique, but how Katie was going to depict her drawing on a three dimensional elephant was going to be a challenge.
As a child Katie yearned for an elephant, she dreamt of elephants and slept with a baby toy elephant. She was enchanted by elephant fables and tales. She really wanted an elephant. Her design is based on the story of Tarzan, Jungle book and Babar the elephant.
Katie was inspired to submit a design because of her natural affinity with elephants and her memories drawn on through childhood. Wanting to have and believing one day that she would have a very own elephant of her own. She has achieved that dream. Designing an elephant for the UK tour has fulfilled that ambition.
The process of painting and depicting through Katie’s narrative of an elephants tale was a challenge. Katie considered painting images accompanied by their stories, but felt it wouldn’t truly express her feelings. So she decided to use charcoal, a wonderful medium that does in fact have a life of it’s own. Designing on a piece of paper and then realising that design in three dimensions meant that Katie spent many hours simply “massaging” her beautiful elephant to get the right tone of charcoal. Deep black and pale greys brought an elephant’s tale to life. After hours and days an elephants tale came to life as the tales Katie used to read came to life in her imagination.
Katie has been impressed by the schools programme and the designs that have been submitted from children around the country. Bringing art and conservation awareness into the classroom and then letting the children paint their winning design on an elephant sculpture is a great way to engage children within the community.