Call them college chairs, recognition chairs, insignia chairs, alumni chairs...my unique take on this traditional concept was conceived for Whittier College, in California, to present to members of their distinguished circle of donors, their Poets Laureate. Philanthropists, civic leaders, alumni...the college wanted to thank them for their generosity, in a very personal way. (These chairs can readily be adapted for other schools and organizations looking for a unique way to honor distinguished alumni and patrons! Contact me for details!)
To create my version of the traditional college chair I first had to learn quite a bit about the college--its history and stories. Each chair has a unifying iconic image on the seat: Whittier College's hallowed Diehl Hall nestled in the lush, park-like setting of the college. In the foreground is the Rock, a 101 year old piece of history that the students' societies (like fraternities and sororities) vie to paint in their signature colors, in a show of school spirit. Popping up unexpectedly is another bit of college lore: Friday the squirrel. The original Friday was the pet of the school's founder, John Greenleaf Whittier--and is said to be stuffed and lurking somewhere in the library (my version is a bit livelier).
The chair back is where I carefully build scenes that reflect more personal elements, specific to each donor. Details from their lives, careers, subjects of particular interest, specific projects they have been instrumental in creating...each donor will find a treasure trove of hidden references that will be uniquely meaningful to them, whether it's basketball courts, a love of science, or chocolate chip cookies! The back consists of five slats, each roughly 1 1/2 inches wide, so this story is told in small sections of minute detail, leaving your eyes and brain to fill in the negative space in between.
Finished off with a hand painted artistic rendering of the college seal and a hand-lettered legend reading "Poets Laureate," the chair is a truly one of a kind commemorative treasure.
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