In the 1800s a diorama was high-scale entertainment, where crowds as large as 350 people would stand on a rotating floor watching a picture shift in subtle ways as they moved in a circle, eventually viewing a completely different picture.
Today we have a scaled-down understanding of the diorama. Recreating scenes from books or explanations of scientific theories in scaled-down, three-dimensional models is the joy of school children every where. Well, at least children who like Elmer’s glue.
If you long for days gone by, times where Play-Dough and popsicle sticks arranged in a shoe box could earn you a golden star, you aren’t alone. Stewart and Will Copeland are with you.
“Two years ago I was sitting at home and I decided to make a diorama of my buddy David,” Stewart explained. “It was a hit.”
In 2007 Stewart’s “hit” became some thing bigger, when, in an attempt to reintroduce a sense of childhood wonder and creativity to the community, he and his brother, Will, organized the first Diorama-rama competition.
“It’s something people feel comfortable doing,” Stewart said. “There’s nothing pretentious about a diorama. It’s something you’re expected to make as a child.”
Stewart refers to last year’s Diorama-rama as a mild success. The pop-culture themed event had about 10 entries, and over a hundred people showed up to check out the big-kid arts and crafts, and to listen to the music.
“We had an amazing time. Everyone was in a good mood and getting along. The bands were great,” Stewart said.
This year the competition is back and bigger and better than ever.
On Saturday, Aug. 2, all diorama enthusiasts are invited to bring their creations to Wolfcastle, on Diana Street in Murfreesboro.
“The rules are very loose and open for interpretation,” Stewart said. “We don’t want to be stifling when it comes to someone’s creative license.”
Competition rules include limiting the size of your diorama to something that can fit through a door (no bigger than a refrigerator), and it may not have any human actors, live animals, perishable food or plants that can rot, or dead animals that can rot. Taxidermy is acceptable.
Oh, and this year’s theme is puberty.
Judging will begin at 8 p.m. with prizes in four categories (subject matter, execution, originality and radness), a best in show award, and audience favorite award. Winners will take home trophies to commemorate their diorama victories, and every one is invited to stay and enjoy an evening of music from local bands and some imported talent.
Headlining for the evening is St. Louis math-rock outfit so many dynamos, a band that’s sure to have you talking about palindromes and dancing all night. Earlier acts include returning bands Target Market and Nashville-based band Meemaw.
Artists with diorama in hand will be admitted for free, all others will be required to pay a modest door fee to support the fabulous out-of-town talent. If you plan on showing your diorama skills, show up early to set up before judging starts at 8 p.m. and to spend the day at the first annual Diorama-rama Field Day, complete with egg toss and sack race.
Stewart said he was grateful to be holding Diorama-rama again at Wolfcastle, where four roommates, including Lex Bearden, work together to promote local arts and culture.
“Murfreesboro has so many good creative vibes,” he said. “It’s too bad that there’s not an outlet or a place where we can do Diorama-rama that’s not a house.”
Visit gohomefatboy.com/diorama-rama for more information.