McKean Elementary Creates a Candy Mural of General John McLane

Posted on June 6, 2014, in Academics, Activities


McKean Elementary students took part in a community-oriented project that created a unique, unofficial portrait of General John McLane. This 5 x 5 portrait is made of 22,620 quarter-inch candy pearls.

Local and nationally known artist Franz Spohn donated his time to create this candy mural exclusively for McKean Elementary School. The portrait at McKean Elementary is one of only four Spohn portraits with the candy pearls to date.

Spohn designed a pixilated version of the General through his computer and then made a map showing where each color of the candy pearls should be placed. Each student at McKean Elementary then followed the map and stacked the colored candy into clear plastic tubes accordingly. The 156 4-inch tubes were then mounted next to each other to form the unique portrait. McKean PTA has offered to pay for the supplies.

Spohn, a professor at Edinboro University in the printmaking department, is a nationally known artist who is quite famous for creating wall murals using gumballs. His gumball portraits of President Obama, Michael Jackson, Robert Ripley and Dean Cain have been featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museums worldwide.

Spohn previously completed full-size gumball muralz for the Neason Hill Elementary School in Meadville and for the Erie Children’s Museum for First Night Erie about 16 years ago. The artist was originally involved with making mosaics out of cupcake sprinkles and jimmies, but he created the gumball murals when he was asked to devise a project for kids using candy as an art material for the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. Spohn switched from gumballs to candy pearls in order to scale the murals down to accommodate more venues who don’t have the space or costs for a 6 x 6 mural – the cost of materials is less for the candy pearls than the gumball murals.

McKean’s portrait will be of General John McLane, the commander of the 83rd Pennsylvania Regiment who was killed on June 27, 1862, at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill during the Virginia Peninsula Campaign. General McLane High School was erected in 1960 and named after McLane, who was at that time still a colonel. The title of general posthumously conferred upon him April 4,1961, when the General Assembly of the State Legislature promoted to brigadier general.

Thank you to all of the students, faculty, staff and parents — and especially Spohn- for making this mural.