Local art students working on "Love Letters" display for Greater Williamsburg Chamber, Colonial Williamsburg

Staff writer

Virginia residents and visitors will recognize the giant “Love” letters that have been placed around the commonwealth’s sites and cities for years.

Now, thanks to some recycling by the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance and some rehabilitation by local art students, “Love” will soon find a home in the Visitor Center in Colonial Williamsburg.

When the Norfolk International Airport tore out one such display as part of their renovations, they saw scrap metal. The GWCTA saw potential, according to chamber spokesman Carter Johnson.

“When we got these from Norfolk, we knew we wanted them here, but we hadn’t yet figured out what to do with them,” Johnson said. “Eventually, after tossing out a few other ideas, we decided to have art students from the local high schools redecorate them.”

The GWTCA gave one letter to each of Williamsburg High Schools — “L” went to Bruton, “O” to Jamestown, “V” to Lafayette and “E” to Warhill — at the beginning of the school year.

While each school was given a different theme for their letter, Johnson says beyond that, directions were very open-ended. Now, with a few months of attention from art students, these recycled and redesigned Love Letters are almost ready for their new home.

“The first one was completed not long ago, and the others should be ready by the end of March, and and it’s exciting to see what these kids are doing with them,” Johnson said. “Warhill, for example, is themed around food in Williamsburg, while Lafayette, last I saw, they were working to transpose faces of some local Williamsburg figures to their letter.”

According to Johnson, Lafayette is a week or two away from completion, while both Jamestown and Warhill hope to be done by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, Bruton students have completed their work on the “L,” according to art teacher Helen Lowery, who supervised the work.

“Our work was based around the Tidewater and the Chesapeake Bay and various parks around town,” said Lowery. “York River State Park was a big inspiration. We worked in some nautical maps and the students put in their own special touches along the way.”

The work on Bruton’s letter was done by sophomores Deizjah Whiting and Anya Spara, beginning late last October. They started by removing the old designs.

“It took a lot of clean up and planning before we could even begin,” Deizjah said. “It was covered with pictures of luggage and planes when it got here, and we had to clean it up before we could add anything of our own.”

“There were a lot of ways we could’ve done this, and it took a lot of planning,” Anya said. “Deizjah and I worked well together — like she would work on the sunset while I would work on the plant, and I’m happy with how it turned out.”

Now that it’s completed, both expressed excitement at the idea that their work will be one of the first things visitors to Williamsburg see.

“I love sunsets, and landscapes are some of my favorite things to draw, so I put a sunset on the front of it,” Deizjah said. “I haven’t had my work presented to that many people, so it’s exciting to know this will be displayed in Colonial Williamsburg and that a lot of people will see that sunset.”

“I was proud to have been one of the two picked to work on it, to say nothing of it going on display,” Anya said.

While a final debut date depends on when the schools complete their work, Johnson said that the Alliance is as eager to see them finished and on display, as are the students.

“We asked each of these schools to contribute work that provides a portrait of the community, and everything we have seen shows these kids went above and beyond,” Johnson said. “We’re very excited about what we’ve seen so far, and we can’t wait to see the finished product.”

Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email sean.korsgaard@vagazette.com, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.

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