At Hellenic American, a Gumball Rally
LOWELL -- Will Rob Surette’s next Guinness World Record be broken in Lowell? That’s the plan with the massive gumball mural Hellenic American Academy students are helping the well-known artist create this week and next during his “Artist in Residence” program at the school.
Surette, a top-tier master fine artist for Disney, Lucasfilm, DC Comics, DreamWorks and Muppets, grew up in Arlington and lives in North Andover. He holds five Guinness World Records, and seeks to break the record he previously set for largest gumball portrait with his mosaic of pop singer Taylor Swift a few years ago.
That portrait had 19,000 gumballs, Surette said. The one at HAA will have 23,000 gumballs, and measures 6 1/2 feet wide by 6 feet tall.
“What’s really impressive is that 3-year-olds, all the way up to 12-year-olds, are helping him create this masterpiece,” said Meridith Regan, a member of the HAA Parent-Teacher Association who had a hand in bringing Surette to the school. “They will remember this for the rest of their lives.”
Only Surette, Regan and fellow event co-chair Althea Harrington know for now who the gumball portrait is of, and they’re not telling. Regan would only say that it’s a celebrity figure all of the students will recognize when the finished portrait is officially unveiled in late May.
“This mosaic we’re creating is going to have a really beautiful message,” Surette said.
He said it has a “humanitarian vibe” and carries a message the “Today Show” has championed -- and he hopes it can be featured there or on another national TV show.
Surette is known for creating art out of unconventional objects, including lipsticks and Lite Brite pegs, which are among his records.
In January, he led a group of elementary school students in Peabody to create a Lego portrait that bears the likeness of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady from one angle, and coach Bill Belichick from another.
Surette said he’s been to more than 4,000 schools, and he much prefers them to corporate events. At schools, he can work one-on-one with the kids, share positive and inspirational messages and videos, and get them excited about life and creativity.
“I feel like I can inspire kids more than I can inspire adults,” Surette said. “They have such bright energy. When you talk about chasing their dreams, they light up.”
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