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Students use Etch A Sketch to do battle 

Most everyone remembers the Etch A Sketch. Before video and computer games polluted our heads, that red-framed, silver sand-filled box and its radio-dial knobs provided hours of entertainment. The best part: If we messed up, we could just shake our mistakes away.

That's exactly the attitude curator Jessica Hunter Larsen wants people to adopt when they experience the Etch-A-Sketch Battle at Colorado College's Coburn Gallery. Part of CC's monthly MUSE series, the quick-draw event pokes a little fun at the process of creating art.

"The whole idea is just to have an experience with artwork that isn't quiet, that isn't formal, but is very social and very fun," says Larsen.

Larsen borrowed the idea from an "Iron Artist" competition that took place in New York during the summer of 2006. In the spirit of the TV show Iron Chef, artists were given the basic ingredients in this case, large Styrofoam blocks and power tools and a theme that was revealed seconds before the competition began.

Similarly at CC, the four students participating in the competition will be given full-size Etch-A-Sketch pads and a theme, which they must interpret in the sandy medium within 30 minutes. (No word yet if the contest will feature an Iron Chef gong.) The audience will watch the artists in action and can doodle on their own mini Etch A Sketches. The finished pieces will be judged and displayed in the gallery, with the artists' permission.

Larsen says this competition fights the notion that making art is a somber activity.

"We wanted to do something that people could play around with and not feel inhibited, that they were using serious art material, or that there's any kind of permanence attached to it," she says. "Have a good time, erase it if you don't like it. No harm, no foul."

MUSE: Etch-A-Sketch Battle
Colorado College's Coburn Gallery, 902 N. Cascade Ave.
Thursday, Jan. 31, 12:30 p.m.
Free; call 389-6607 for more.

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