Winners of 8th Annual Repurposed Doodad Competition now onlineDoodads also on display at Tampa International Airport

The Annual Re-Purposed Doodad Sculpture Competition inspires students to create imaginative sculptures along a theme while re-purposing common objects, or “doodads.” Open to K-12 students in Hillsborough County, the competition challenges students to think beyond traditional art materials.

Reflecting the venue, this year’s theme is “Shoes: Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” for students to be inspired by the physical places they can travel and by the limitless possibilities for their lives.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” -- Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go! 

The “Doodads” for 2019-2020 are snack wrappers and plastic bags.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away more than 70 pounds of used clothing and footwear per person per year with only 15% of that recycled or donated. 

The imagination and creative talent of kindergarten through 12th-grade students who attend public, private, charter and home schools in Hillsborough County are currently on display at the Tampa International Airport. Organizers received 132 sculptures from 32 schools that involved 36 teachers and 310 students.

Because few members of the public are traveling through the airport during these difficult COVID-19 times, the sculptures are also available to see online through the Doodads competition online gallery. You can also watch a walking tour of the exhibit on YouTube.

Competition judges were entrusted to vote for the sculptures they felt best met the competition criteria. The competition is unique in that it focuses on three-dimensional art, increases awareness about the importance of recycling, and judges award over $6,000 in cash prizes. The award winners are showcased at Doodad of Tampa.

First-place winners in each of the four grade categories

Grades K-2 -- Painting Panthers Art Club, Panthers with Promise Art Club and other K-5 students (approximately 50 students) from Lomax Magnet Elementary.

“As students thought about where these shoes can take them: the past, future and different locations around the world. they realized how much plastic was being used to wrap snack foods and the bags to carry them in. Students talked about ways they could decrease this by using reusable bags when shopping and buying large bags of snacks and splitting it up in reusable containers. Students discussed how these places they wanted to go would become cluttered with trash if overproduction of snack food keeps being made.”

Grades 3-5 -- Avril Carvajal Montecristo, Allison Cellitti, Avalon Hemstead, Kate Kronbach, Chloee Lau, Luke Levy, Liam Mobley, Adelaide Sansone, Rosario Terracciano, 3rd through 5th graders at Gorrie Elementary.

“ 'Oh, the Places Inky Will Go!' Inky, the octopus explorer of the sea, escaped from the aquarium and now he’s free! In the open ocean he will always be! He is now known as the Houdini! We hope you like our poem!

Our group of nine artists started brainstorming ideas for the Doodad sculpture exhibit and came up with the idea of an octopus with eight shoes on his tentacles. We found and read the book, “Inky the Octopus” by Erin Guendelsberger. The book is a real story about an octopus named Inky who escaped from an aquarium in New Zealand. Inky has been exploring the ocean ever since. We 'caught' Inky to find out where his shoes took him. After the Doodad display, we will release Inky by recycling the over 300 plastic bags stuffed inside of him. We would like everyone to recognize the fact that throwing away plastic -- like bags and wrappers -- has terrible consequences to the environment. We researched the 'Islands of Trash' found in different places throughout the world. The largest is in the Pacific Ocean and is bigger than Mexico now. The trash islands are so thick with floating plastics that you can walk on them. We learned so much making this sculpture! Go Inky Go!!”

Middle School -- Madeleine Berg, Chloe Boback, Addison Brown, Lauren Echeverry, Regan Hernandez, Emma Kaiser, Sophia Kelly, Reese MacDonald, Rory Martineau, Kamila Muraharisetti, Lin Riser, Bryn Valiente, Isabelle Williams, Michael Xavier, 8th graders from the Academy of The Holy Names.

“Our class was so excited about the Annual DooDad Competition! We were eager to brainstorm as a class together and were so excited to sculpt a combination of Tampa Landmarks and shoes! 'Oh The Places You'll Go,' in Tampa is limitless! As Tampa spreads it wings in leaps and bounds with cutting-edge technology, state-of-the-art businesses, and emerging start-ups, Tampa consistently is reinventing itself and redesigning gorgeous spaces. You can go anywhere if you have the right pair of shoes on! With our walkable city, there are a million places your shoes can take you! Our display demonstrates and highlights our favorite places around Tampa Bay. We built our own plaster casts and used recycled candy wrappers and chip bags! Enjoy! Now, Go for a walk in The Top 10 Ranked Airport!”

High School -- Sydney Palm, 12th grader at Plant City High School. “I created a Croc out of yellow plastic bags and snack wrappers. I chose this shoe because I have a pair of yellow Crocs that are my favorite. Creating this sculpture was a challenge, but I am so glad I stuck with it. I learned a lot about products people are dependent on that aren’t easily recycled. And I learned that it will take a lot of work and dedication to make change happen in the way we use plastics.”

This year’s competition also included the People’s Choice Awards, made possible by a grant from Suncoast Credit Union. We received over 2,000 texted votes! Thank you to the hundreds of people who supported their favorite sculptures. The top 9 sculptures that received the most votes received a People’s Choice Award regardless of grade level category.

Other sponsors included The Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County Commission, the Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, Allegro Senior Living, BNY Mellon, and various private individuals.

The commitment of Tampa International Airport and generous sponsors helps young people to experience the importance of reusing unconventional materials while problem-solving through the creative process.

For updates, periodically check the Doodads website and Facebook.

Kathy Durdin is a national award-winning watercolor and mixed media artist in Tampa who helps coordinate and judge the annual Doodads competition.
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