Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

“The worse it is, the better its chances of winning” was the theme going into the Combined Arms Research Library’s Bad Art Contest Feb. 13 outside the makerspace.

“Bad art is a program that I’ve seen offered at libraries,” said Nora Walker, CARL community library technician. “We keep all of the leftover pieces of craft projects that we do with all of our youth programming, and it is overflowing, so I thought we could do a bad art night with all of our leftover pieces. That way we’re not throwing them away and giving them a chance to be used.”

Thirteen-year-old Caitlynn Lovell shows her Bad Art Contest entry to her parents, Tosha Lovell and Sgt. 1st Class Robert Lovell, Army University, after the makerspace pop-up event Feb. 13 at the Combined Arms Research Library. Bad Art Contest participants had 40 minutes to work on their creations, then participants voted to determine the “worst.” Caitlynn took second place with artwork she described as a pirate/teddy bear. Some of the Bad Art Contest entries will be on display at the library for National Craft Month in March. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

During the contest, participants had 40 minutes to create their bad art using scrap paper, stickers, pipe cleaners, foam balls, cut-up straws, crayons and more.

“An event like this is definitely less intimidating because it is an opportunity to express creativity but not feel like you have to make something perfect or you have to be No. 1 at whatever you’re doing,” said Katy Touysinhthiphonexay, CARL acquisitions library technician. “It is an opportunity for everyone to try it out, especially if it’s bad. The worse it is, the better we’ll like it.”

Capt. Nick Stronczek, Command and General Staff Officer Course student, assists 3-year-old Jack as the toddler adds foam shapes to his Bad Art Contest entry Feb. 13 at the Combined Arms Research Library. Participants were given 40 minutes to create their “worst” art, then voted for their favorites. Jack’s artwork placed third in the contest. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Participants didn’t hesitate to get started. Courtney Stronczek, mother of 9-year-old Bianca, 8-year-old Ben, 3-year-old Jack, and 1-year-old Wally, said she’d been looking forward to the event.

“We really have never been to a bad artist contest. We’ve never heard of one,” Stronczek said. “We do art every day (at home). It is really cool to have (art) that is very different. …That makes it very fun.

“We always think if you make a mistake, you just turn it into something else,” she said. “(My kids) have always loved art and that way they can express themselves.”

Capt. Nick Stronczek, Command and General Staff Officer Course student, agreed with his wife.

“It’s the opposite of what you think art is,” he said. “It gives you more freedom to be creative and come up with new ideas.”

Bianca Stronczek said she thought creating bad art was more difficult.

“I think I’m not going to be able to do it,” she said, “but it is fun.”

Bianca created a pig paperbag puppet complete with hair and a bow made from yarn and a dress made out of tissue paper.
“(Pigs) are cute,” she said.

Thirteen-year-old Caitlynn Lovell, Patton Junior High School seventh-grader, said she was struggling with her piece of art, too.
“It’s not as ugly as I want it to be,” she said, “but I just like creating stuff.”

Twelve-year-old Lillian Pence, Patton seventh-grader, created a piece she named “Fire Sheep” out of tissue paper, feathers, cotton, foam balls, yarn and pipe cleaners.
“(I create bad art) every time I try to create good art,” Lillian said. “But it’s fun because when you’re judging to see who had the worst one, it is much easier to do.”

Eleven-year-old, Eleanor Pence, Eisenhower Elementary School fifth-grader, created a piece she named “Joe” after an egg drop challenge gone wrong Feb. 11 at school.
“It broke on the first try, so we lost, sadly, but we named it Joe, so this is in honor of Joe,” Eleanor said.

Eleanor said she didn’t limit herself to what she used to create Joe.
“(I used) straight up everything,” she said. “Usually in art there is a limit, but now there is no limit. It can be as awful as you want it, and you can just add and add and add because adding is great.”

After participants created and submitted their bad art, each participant voted on one piece that wasn’t his or her own, which helped determine the winners.

Eleven-year-old Eleanor Pence’s homage to her egg drop challenge failure, entitled “Joe,” won first place in the Combined Arms Research Library’s Bad Art Contest Feb. 13. Eleanor tied for first place with her 12-year-old sister Lillian, whose artwork “Fire Sheep” was also considered the best worst art made for the contest as voted on by the participants. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

The Pence sisters tied for first and each received a gift card and a free book. Caitlynn won second place and received two free books. Jack won third place and also received two free books.

Once the winners chose their prizes, all the participants also chose a free book.

“We definitely hope that (participants) will see the library as a family-friendly place. I know that many times, I’ve heard from families, especially those who are new to post, that they always assume that the library is just for students, so we’re always looking for ways to encourage people and families to come and visit us,” Touysinhthiphonexay said. “After this event we hope people will come back, people will keep an eye out for future community events and know that we’re definitely open to hosting creative stuff that ties in with books, ties in with reading, but also takes it to a different level.”

For more information about upcoming CARL events, visit the CARL Facebook page.

Eight-year-old Ben Stronczek entered this mixed-media creation in the Bad Art Contest Feb. 13 at the Combined Arms Research Library. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Eleven-year-old Eleanor Pence and 13-year-old Caitlynn Lovell look at entries in the Bad Art Contest Feb. 13 at the Combined Arms Research Library. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Courtney Stronczek and 1-year-old Wally look at the entries in the Bad Art Contest Feb. 13 at the Combined Arms Research Library. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Sylvia Rae peruses the entries in the Bad Art Contest, including artwork by her granddaughters, 12-year-old Lillian and 11-year-old Eleanor Pence, after the contest that celebrated the worst creations participants could come up within a 40-minute timeframe Feb. 13 at the Combined Arms Research Library. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Nine-year-old Bianca Stronczek turns in her creation to Nora Walker, community library technician, for the Bad Art Contest Feb. 13 at the Combined Arms Research Library. Bad Art Contest participants had 40 minutes to create “bad art,” then participants each voted once for artwork not their own. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Twelve-year-old Lillian Pence and 13-year-old Caitlynn Lovell work on their “bad art” creations Feb. 13 at the Combined Arms Research Library. Bad Art Contest participants had 40 minutes to create “bad art,” which was then voted on by participants. Lillian’s “Fire Sheep” creation tied for first place with 11-year-old Eleanor Pence’s mixed-media piece entitled “Joe.” Caitlynn took second place with artwork she described as a pirate/teddy bear, and 3-year-old Jack Stronczek took third with his shape and texture artwork. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Nine-year-old Bianca, 8-year-old Ben and 3-year-old Jack make book selections with their dad, Capt. Nick Stronczek, Command and General Staff Officer Course student, after the Bad Art Contest Feb. 13 at the Combined Arms Research Library. Bad Art Contest winners were awarded gift certificates and two books, and all artists were given the option to select a book for participating. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

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