Undead art

Fishtown resident turns porcelain statues into blood-dripping zombies for fun and goodwill.

Hail, Holy Queen of Horror: Kelsey Romano purchases porcelain statues destined for landfills and gives them a second life as zombies. PHOTO COURTESY OF KELSEY ROMANO.

By Melissa Komar

While some may see an already complete work of art when gazing upon a colorless, porcelain statue, Kelsey Romano sees a blank canvas.

The Fishtown resident finds inexpensive small pieces and “zombifies” them, blackening out their eyes and adding streaks of blood with paint.

“I try and select pieces that can also be functional as either a planter or candle holder, but I typically look for ones that already have a lot of detail or that immediately inspire me,” said the special education teacher. “But most of all, I look for something really inexpensive.”

The first figure Romano painted was a small, ceramic Mary.

“The first figure I painted was for Sophi Reaptress, a Fishtown local seamstress. She made me an awesome pair of leggings for my birthday so I wanted to make her something in return to thank her,” she said. “I bought a small ceramic Mary for a couple of dollars, zombified it, and added a cool plant. She seemed to really love it and it gave me a lot of joy making it. After this, I was hooked.”

And, so were her friends.

““Luckily for me, my friends are as weird as I am and they appreciate them. The extras that have not been given away or sold are scattered throughout my house,” Romano said. “They look awesome on a bookshelf or peaking out in between my coffee mugs in the kitchen.”

Most recently, Romano had her zombie project, which she and her husband named Baby Drac after their black cat, Tiny Baby Dracula, on display at NKCDC’s Last Friday Halloween Celebration on Friday, Oct. 26.

Some of her statues were purchased at the Resource Exchange, which had been salvaged film props.

“My husband recommended I check out the Resource Exchange in order to help spruce up my classroom,” she said. “It is a great place to get decorations, art supplies for projects, and when I started zombifying a couple years ago, it had some wonderfully random statues that were perfect for turning into creepy, blood-dripping zombies.”

A portion of proceeds from zombies sold, including those featured at the NKCDC event, benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center or the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

“With our political climate as it is, it’s nice to take this fun thing that I do and give back in a small way,” Romano said. “Both of these organizations help support an end to bigotry and hate in the pursuit of social justice. It also allows people to buy something they can enjoy and be supporting a worthwhile cause.”

Although her art allows her to support causes close to her heart, money is not the end goal.

“My ultimate goal for creating these pieces is personal satisfaction and the joy that they bring people. I am not doing this to make money, but truly enjoy the looks on peoples’ faces when they see my pieces. I have had such an outpouring of appreciation and support- I feel so lucky and enheartened.”

And, to recycle.

“I am actually running a club that is working with the Insectarium on building a giant, interactive bug statue, which will be created with found and recycled materials. I love being creative and if I can help keep trash out of landfills that makes it even more rewarding.”

To check out Kelsey Romano’s zombie art, email her at tinybabydrac@gmail.com or visit her Instagram at tinybabydrac or Etsy site at www.etsy.com/shop/babydrac.