Interview and photos by Wesley Kirk
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a new column as part of a new ongoing partnership with Wesley Kirk's People of Denton project. Check his bio at the bottom of the story for more info!
Erin Summerlin is an Radio-Television-Film major at the University of North Texas. Before the first day of the Spring 2014 semester, she and a few friends wrapped the statues outside the Environmental Science Building with some cozy & colorful winter wear. The photos of her sweater-bombing that were posted on People of Denton became a big hit, and eventually ended up on the evening news. We spoke with Summerlin about her adventures with sweater-bombing and worrying about what her mom would think.
What made you want to do it?
The statues had sweaters on them when I first came to campus, but no one had done it since. When I first saw that, it made me really happy, and glad I went to school here, because it’s not something you see everyday. I think it’s definitely something everyone can appreciate, when you walk by the same thing everyday and suddenly it’s different and it’s funny to look at, it can really brighten your day, every single day. That can be really impactful.
What did it take to plan?
There were a couple months of talking about it. One day I even went out and measured the statues. I asked my friend, Caitlin Antkowski, who’s a fashion major at TWU & UNT, and her friend Savannah Flusche, if they’d want to help. We didn’t want to knit sweaters for each statue, because it would take too long, so we went to Denton Thrift and bought sweaters that would fit them by cutting them up and sewing them on. I looked for the most awkward, brightest sweaters I could find, and I was keeping different sizes in mind, like kids sweaters for the little deer and coyotes, and extra large for the man.
What was it like when you were putting the sweaters on them?
It was an adrenaline rush. I felt like I was in high school again. I’m kind of a goody-two-shoes, so getting in trouble is not OK with me. I love my mom a lot and I would never want to do anything that would make her disappointed in me. So I was very nervous. I was scared someone would stop us and we’d get in trouble somehow. But after a while, when people passed us and didn’t stop or ask us what we were doing, I realized they were OK with it.
What was the process of putting the sweaters on?
First we had planned out which sweaters would go on which statue, and how they had to be cut to fit over them, and how to stitch the sides back up. After we got the main statues, we started going through all our material, trying to make the best use of it, with scarves, hats, and little mittens.
Why did you stitch #SweaterBomb on the man’s sweater?
Caitlin & Savannah did that so that we could keep track of who was taking pictures of it, or tweeting it, or even on Facebook. We wanted to make sure there was a way to connect all the news about it.
What did you think would happen the next day?
I honestly had no idea. I wasn’t prepared for the reaction that came from it. But it was cool, because it was a source of people’s attention and they wanted their pictures with it, and pictures of it. There were a lot of comments of people saying “I love my school!” or “This is awesome!” or “This is so cute!” or “This made my day!” and those comments made me really happy, because that was the whole purpose. Just to know that it worked was very satisfying. Very, very satisfying.
What was your favorite reaction?
I called my mom and explained to her what I did, because she didn’t even know. At first she was totally expecting me to say I got kicked out of school or something, because we’re both the same way, we worry. So she was freaking out until I told her it might be on the news. She went home and shared it all over her facebook, and she was just so proud!
Wesley Kirk is a student at UNT majoring in Film with a perspective that we can't get enough of. He is the owner and founder of The Vision Beautiful, Click Clack Short Films, People of Denton and is heading up the Short Film Club. He is one busy dude to say the least. Catch him if you can running around campus with a camera of sorts strapped to his hand headed to the next adventure.