Education

Girl’s Grotesque Turns to Stone

July 23, 2019 1 min read

The winner of a “Draw-a-Grotesque” contest will travel to Washington this week to see the monster she created perched high atop the National Cathedral.

Alison Garner, an 8th grader at South View High School in Edina, Minn., won a drawing contest sponsored by National Geographic World magazine. Children were invited to submit drawings of gargoyles and I grotesques, according to Mary Lee Elden, an editor of the magazine. The winner was picked from a field of 1,400 entries submitted by children ages 8 to 13 from 16 countries.

The 12-year-old winner’s inspiration for the drawing came from the magazine’s story announcing the contest, which explained that grotesques and gargoyles are stone monsters placed on buildings to keep the rain from running down limestone walls and staining them. The article noted that rain flows through the mouths of gargoyles and pours over the heads and off the noses of grotesques. “I read that rain water drains out of the mouths of gargoyles,” Alison said, “so I gave my grotesque an umbrella for protection.”

Alison named her drawing “Sagacious Grotesque.”

The Sagacious carving, which is finished, and the designs of the three runners-up—a raccoon, a girl with braces, and Darth Vader, the I evil character from the movie “Star Wars"—will all be the work of Vincent Palumbo, the stone carver at the National Cathedral. They will be placed on the west tower, now under construction. Sagacious is 8 inches tall and 9 inches wide.

The magazine awarded Alison and her family a three-day trip to Washington. Both of her parents work at her school; her father is a language-arts teacher and her mother is a paraprofessional.

A version of this article appeared in the April 09, 1986 edition of Education Week

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