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Haughton student sends message with colossal art piece

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Haylee Ritter’s “Mycephalopod” was a 2-year project built using recyclable materials and is on display at the Bossier Arts Council. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

By Stacey Tinsley,stinsley@bossierpress.com

For the past two years, soon-to-be Haughton High School graduate Haylee Ritter has taken on a project that has a deeper meaning beyond artistic expression.

“I was flipping through a magazine one day and read how polluted the ocean was and it saddened me. It saddened me to think of all of the animals living in the ocean, dying because of trash that humans put in there. About a week or two after I read the article, I went to the Shreveport Aquarium and saw octopi. Seeing them made me think of the article I read and I thought, ‘Hey, why not make a big sculpture of an octopus made of recyclable materials?’” said Ritter. 

Ritter’s “Mycephalopod” sculpture represents an octopus made out of paper mache, pool noodles and various other recycled materials. It’s an enormous sculpture that spans a measurement of 8 feet from one tentacle to another.

Haylee Ritter

It is on display at the Bossier Arts Council.

“I want whoever sees my sculpture to feel the importance of recycling. The materials that I used in my sculpture are some of the things that are killing animals in the ocean and they are completely recyclable,” added Ritter. 

Ritter’s journey constructing “Mycephalopod” began two years ago under the leadership and watchful eye of Bossier Schools Talented Arts Instructor and local artist Steve Porter. She called him an amazing teacher, inspiration, and a role model.

“I’ve been in the Talented Arts program since 6th grade. Mr. Porter is an amazing teacher and he has had such a great impact on student artists. Mr. Porter has helped me art-wise and career-wise,” she said. “Mr. Porter is there to guide you and open up your creativity and he’s always there to back you up on whatever you need. He pushes people past their comfort zones in art so that they extend their art in new ways.”

The Bossier Parish Talented Program seeks to screen, identify, and provide services for children who possess unique talent in the visual or performing arts. The focus of the program is to provide accelerated curriculum based on the National Standards for Arts Education and the Louisiana Arts Content Standards. 

“Haylee is an exceptional student and is extremely talented. She has the abilities to succeed no matter what path she decides to take,” says Porter.

After graduating from Haughton High School on Jan. 17, Haylee plans to enlist into the Air Force and pursue a degree in business studies at Louisiana Tech.

“I definitely plan on keeping up with my art, I’ll just be doing it on the side,” Ritter said.

Community Development Coordinator at the Bossier Arts Council Michael Byrnes says they believe if Haylee continues on her path of creativity, she is destined to do well in the art world.

“Each year we have an astonishing amount of incredible artwork entered into our Bossier Parish Student Art Show. This year was no exception. Along with the 94 pieces of art that was entered, Haylee Ritter entered a piece on a colossal scale. When her instructor Steve Porter delivered this piece of art to the Bossier Arts Council, everyone was excited to see the passion that the young artist had placed into her work. We believe if Haylee continues on this path, she will do well in the art world,” said Byrnes.