‘Muffler people’ brighten up a highway

When a small muffler shop on the highway near Walters, Oklahoma, started piling old, beat-up mufflers around their store sign, they didn’t realize they were laying the foundation for an attention-getting art display that would bring lots of good publicity to their business.


Beverly Scott, art teacher at MacArthur Junior High School in Lawton, Oklahoma, had passed the Hathaway and Simpson Muffler Man Shop many times, idly noting the ever-growing pile of old mufflers. One day she realized that this was a potential art project for her students, who had just finished studying cartooning and commercial art and were discussing ways to advertise products in unusual ways using graphic art.

Scott had often thought how funny it would be if the mufflers piled under the sign all had faces painted on them. She had even considered stopping by the shop with a paintbrush to make her daydream a reality. Now she realized that her students could amuse the community and brighten up the muffler shop while learning more about advertising art.

The shop owners laughingly agreed to be part of the unusual assignment, and hauled over 100 old mufflers to the school on a trailer. Each art student chose what they felt was the perfect muffler for his or her project.

The artists began by doing a rough draft of their “muffler person.” Some students sanded and cleaned rust off their mufflers, while others used any defects, rust, or dings as part of the design. There was a lot of thinking, and even more laughing as the muffler people took shape.

Hats and wigs were brought from home, and the mufflers took on real personalities. Some students took their mufflers home to do extra work on them. More than one puzzled mother asked the school, “Can anyone tell me what a muffler is doing in my living room?”

When the project was finished, the muffler people were displayed in the halls of the school for a week so that everyone could enjoy them before they went back to the muffler shop. Prizes were awarded for the “best” mufflers, but many people said that every muffler deserved an award for creativity. Then the mufflers were returned to the muffler shop and stacked around the signpost once more.

The muffler shop owners were more than delighted with the results of the project. They donated $100 to the school’s art fund. The excitement didn’t stop there. The local newspaper ran an article on the muffler people, and the Lawton television station came out to film them. The only problem seemed to be that motorist had a hard time keeping their eyes on the road while they were laughing at the artwork on the mufflers.

This unusual art project not only drew positive attention to a small muffler business, it brightened up a rather dreary section of highway and served as a junior high art display that the entire community, as well as people just passing through, could enjoy.

Reprinted from the Art-to-Art Palette Journal/Main Section 2008-09 Fall/Winter Edition

Published by on December 2017. Filed under Art-to-Art Palette Journal, News (Time related), Oklahoma, Paint Box Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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