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Words do this to us. They feed us even before we see. They build expectations. They are things too. And they lead us to see other things in a certain way. Words activated like and paired with the visual are the message.

Artist Carves Superheroes & Pumpkins

Danelle Cheney

Sculptors at the pumpkin-cult-worshipped Villafane Studios will give you a few ideas this Halloween. Founded by artist Ray Villafane, a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City, the studio takes the annual pumpkin decorating season seriously. Ray’s sculpture career began as a hobby; he was working as a grade school teacher in Michigan when his wife suggested that he find an outlet for his artistic skills. The pumpkin carving began with his students, but he began to attract a local following, selling his pumpkins to hotels and restaurants. About the same time, Ray got in contact with a friend who worked as a sculptor for Disney’s film studios. Inspired, Ray devoted more serious time to his craft: by 2004, his depiction of Wolverine from the X-Men was sold, establishing him a professional sculptor of statues and figures as well as round orange squashes. Posting images of his work online, Ray was discovered by DC Comics, which offered him a two-year contract. Warner Bros., Marvel and others saw his genius and signed on as well.

In 2007, the Food Network asked Ray to take part in their Challenge Show’s Outrageous Pumpkins episode. Ray competed, and won the grand prize (repeating the victory in following years). Today he shows his art around the world. His pumpkin carvings have decorated the White House, and his commissioned sand sculptures were on display in public squares in Moscow. Before you start work on your own jack-o-lantern this year, view Villafane Studios’ pumpkin sculptures here and here, and buy carving tools from their online shop to perfectly create your own masterpiece.