‘Color Me Warhol’: Aspen Education Foundation turns photos into fundraiser | AspenTimes.com

‘Color Me Warhol’: Aspen Education Foundation turns photos into fundraiser

John Kelly photosAspen Elementary and Aspen Middle School students are at the center of an Aspen Education Foundation fundraiser called "Color Me Warhol," in which black and white portraits by John Kelly are digitally altered. The black-and-white photographs and 'Warhol'ed' versions are available for purchase, with proceeds benefitting AEF, at a website that went live Tuesday.

ASPEN – Forget candy bar sales and car washes, magazine drives and book fairs. When it comes to raising cash for kids, the Aspen Education Foundation has found a new angle.

“It’s called ‘Color Me Warhol’ … and it’s creative, it’s unique, and the kids just love it,” said AEF Executive Director Cindy Kahn.

The idea originally came from Aspen Middle School art teacher Rae Lampe and blossomed from there.

“We were looking for new fundraising concepts, and this just struck a chord,” Kahn said.

“Color Me Warhol” features the faces of Aspen Elementary and Aspen Middle school students. It went live on the Web Tuesday; one scroll through the gallery and it’s obvious these are no ordinary school pictures.

Taken by John Kelly a noted professional photographer and Roaring Fork Valley resident, these black-and-white portraits are keepsakes, a moment in time of each child’s life.

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“It’s a portrait, but it’s all about their eyes,” said Kelly, whose professional credits are long and impressive. “Even though I had only a short time with each kid, I had to get them to tell me something, to show me something about themselves …

“It’s great, because kids will do some strange stuff; they really dig making a silly face. And we just let them do it. It’s a hoot.”

But “Color Me Warhol” takes these fun and freewheeling portraits a step further, as the black-and-white image is transformed into a colored alteration of its former self.

“You’ve got to see the ‘Warhol’ed’ images to understand just how cool they are,” Kahn said. “And while there are programs that can do this for you, John’s portraits are so amazing that they are one step above anything you could do yourself.”

As such, AEF saw an opportunity in the concept. And when Kelly agreed to donate his time and talent to the project – “When a friend or teacher or someone like this asks if you’ll do something for the kids, well, you say yes. It’s about giving back,” he said – AEF embarked on a fundraising campaign with the “Color Me Warhol” photos at its center.

It began in mid-October, when Kelly visited Aspen Elementary School and photographed every child – more than 400 kids in less than six hours, giving him about 40 seconds with each child.

The photos were then handed over to Kelly’s assistant, Shawn O’Connor, who digitally altered them.

A website showcasing the images went live Tuesday, so parents and others can order the prints in a variety of sizes and at several price points. According to Kahn, all proceeds will benefit the Aspen Education Foundation, the Aspen School District’s nonprofit fundraising arm, which supports programs and services not funded by the district and state.

“We are very fortunate in this valley to have someone like John to help us with a fundraiser like this,” said Kahn, adding that Aspen Middle School students will have their portraits shot, and then “Warhol’ed,” for uploading to the web next week. “And I think it’s something so unique that we will see a great response from our school community.”

Kelly agreed.

“We love the black-and-whites, but it’s such a fun departure to see these portraits so tricked out,” he said. “These are beautiful kids … and great images. And what makes it even better is that it’s all about education. The kids learned something, I think, and it all goes back to benefit their education.”

For more information or to view and order “Color Me Warhol” prints, visit http://www.aspenaef.org/warhol/ or call 925-3760, ext. 2260.

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com