Little League Baseball and Charles Fazzino unveiled the artist's three-dimensional pop art piece that illustrates the culture of the Little League World Series Saturday morning in South Williamsport.
Fazzino's body of work reflects popular culture back to society, showing them the highlights of who they are and from where they came. He has accomplished it over his 30-year career with his commissioned projects representing the Olympic Games, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League All-Star games and multiple Super Bowls. And Saturday, the Little League World Series was added to that list.
As art education programs are being cut throughout the state and across the U.S., communities occasionally get a beautiful reminder of the importance of art in their children's lives.
Artist Charles Fazzino unveiled his 3-D Little League World Series pop art piece, above, at the World of Little League Viewing Plaza in South Williamsport.
Fazzino's most recent piece, which was unveiled at the World of Little League Viewing Plaza, fills a canvas with three-dimensional drawings of Little League. Each country that participates in the organization is represented, along with the children who play, the spectators who cheer them on and the umpires who volunteer their time to this international community.
Jennifer Wilson, president of the First Community Foundation Partnership, is credited with being the brains behind the project. FCF partnership gives out a Beyond the Budget grant. The concept of that grant is to bring opportunities to students that would be otherwise unavailable through their own school district budgets.
The foundation, with the help of Little League Baseball and Pennsylvania College of Technology, commissioned Fazzino to collaborate with it and Lycoming County teachers and students to create a piece that reflected the culture of the Little League World Series.
"We were able to bring over 1,300 students together this past February to experience the art of Charles Fazzino," Wilson said. "Some of them participated in this particular project, but others went back to their classrooms and worked with their own art teachers."
The collaborative pieces created in the kids' classrooms are on display at The Gallery at Penn College. Fazzino's 3-D piece will be on display at the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum.
Framing the artwork is more than 100 round pieces that children from Lycoming and Sullivan county schools decorated and contributed to Fazzino's 3-D piece.
"As we were creating the artwork, the kids were just into it, they were so involved. They wanted to be there," Fazzino said. "When I'm working on different projects around the country, sometimes you don't get that enthusiasm. You don't get the kids that really want to be here. But as we worked on the piece together you saw that the kids just wanted to be involved."
Embedded in his project, Fazzino said, are over 2,000 Swarovski crystals to give an extra shine to the piece when the light hits it. The artist also has played with light in his art pop projects in the past. The sculpture he created for American Airlines is displayed at JFK airport, accented by LED lighting.
After the unveiling, many families making their way into the complex stopped to appreciate the work representing the international event they were about to experience.
Joshua Gabino, the Pearland, Texas, catcher who left during the first inning of the game Friday with an injured left hand, stopped by the viewing plaza with his father, Vince, to get a close look.
"It's really cool," Joshua said, without tearing his eyes away from the piece.
Fazzino threw the ceremonial first pitch beside the children who helped him create the work of art at Howard J. Lamade Stadium Saturday night before Southeast Region champ Nashville, Tennessee, faced off against New England champion Cumberland, Rhode Island.
"I just want everybody to know how much energy from the kids, from the community went into the piece," Fazzino said, "and I'm so honored that its going to be here, at the museum as its permanent home."