The actual car itself is a Chrysler Sebring painted imperfectly with white roof paint. But on top of the car with steel rods and chicken-wire structure is the massive white dove with silver disco balls for eyes. Senior Rubyn Lee has a name for this dove.
“This is a dove for peace, love and sanity.”
White t-shirts will cover the chicken wire and make the doves skin. The white sheet covering the tail will flap up and down and so will the wings. Balloons of different colors will make the nest. Lee says that the dove is symbolic and their little float will have a message.
“Gun violence should stop and we should have stricter regulations on gun policies.”
For some of the students working on this project, gun violence is their reality. Lee says a couple a years ago his older sister was shot, and now she lives with a disability. Senior Alfredo Hernandez Jr., who is also working on the car, has a stake in the message.
“I have a friend who got shot through a drive-by too, and it affected me because he was like my big brother, yeah he died, that was when I was young, so it really affected me.”
High school art teacher Patrick Renner says that he’s been transformed by the students’ choice of theme. He says that when the students decided on their theme, his role was to help them think of a visual representation of their message.
“Probably we don’t want to create a car as a giant gun. So I sort of began to ask them what things will represent the inverse of that. You know, what is an example of a symbol of peace? And we came around to the dove.”
Sharpstown International’s art car is one of the 20 or so art cars that schools or youth groups are making this year. It’s a way for students to think about public art and interact with an audience of hundreds of thousands. Jonathan Beitler promotes the Houston Art Car parade, and he says one of the joys for those who make the art cars is how their whimsy brightens just an ordinary day.
“You know, you’re stuck in gridlock, and you see a car roll by with a giant Santa Claus hat on it. You’re gonna probably crack a smile, you know.”
Alfredo Hernandez Jr. hopes their car will crack some smiles.
“We can also have fun, you know. Nobody’s going to stop us from having fun. We just want to have fun, but also want to take a little bit serious and send a message.”
Rubyn Lee says their giant white dove has its own theme song.
[“Just Like the White Winged Dove” by Stevie Nicks]
The students plan to march in front of the bird on Saturday in white painters suits. And they’ll hand out water bottles with peace signs.