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13,000 push pins create self portrait
Madeleine Romero won Best of Show at the East Union High School Art Show Tuesday night with a self-portrait entry made entirely of thumb tacks. The three-month project utilized more than 13,000 push pins. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL


• WHAT: Manteca Unified School District Art Show
• WHERE: District office at 2227 W. Louise Ave. west of Airport Way
• WHEN: Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.
• NOTES: Free admission, art available for purchase

When it comes to art, Madeleine Romero is as sharp as a tack.


It isn’t that she knows everything about specific art movements or periods or other information that one would expect from an art history major. It isn’t even that she wants to make art something that she pursues professionally when she graduates from East Union High School in the spring.

But with her raw fingers to tell the tale, Romero showed each one of her classmates what dedication means when she showcased her self-portrait Tuesday night at the school’s annual art show – crafted from more than 13,000 push pins over a three-month period.

“I love the kick that you get from it – it helps me get through days at school,” Romero said of art. “It’s happiness to me. It helps me forget about the things that I’m stressed out about and the things that are bothering me. I love it.”

In order to complete the project, Romero – who used an actual self-portrait that she took with a camera as the basis for the creation and used a setting in Photoshop to craft the comic book-like appearance that it invokes – used so many black push pins that she actually had to spray paint some to speed up the process.

A regular painter, she got the idea from her teacher Jeff Moring when searching for something to showcase at the annual spring show.

He showed her pictures of some tacky art, she said, and she fell in love with the concept.

“It was something different and something that I wasn’t used to, but I was up for the challenge,” Romero said. “It was nice to see the Best of Show award. I was excited – it was a thrill for me.”

Artwork and media from each of East Union’s art-based classes – sculpture, photography, painting etc. – were set-up inside of the school’s theater for parents to come and check out in a popular annual event that allows students to put their best work on display.

Performing arts students from the East Union band, choir class and drama department also made brief performances Tuesday.

For ceramics teacher Kim Ray, seeing so many parents in attendance at an event that honors students and their dedication to the arts was great to see.

“There really isn’t a focus on the arts, and this is a nice demonstration on how much talent and creativity our students really have,” she said. “Those students see their work and they show their parents and they’re so proud. They get to show their friends the things that they’ve been working on all year.

“There is so much talent and creativity here, and it’s great to see it all on display.”