"Mutant Otters Destroy Town Hall Theater" by Daniel Houghton
Shoppers, strollers and post office-goers in downtown Middlebury may notice a new artwork in the window of the National Bank of Middlebury: a miniature replica of the Town Hall Theater being attacked by giant, mutant otters.
Middlebury's Town Hall Theater, like many performing arts spaces, is currently closed due to the pandemic, which Houghton said was part of the motivation for capturing it in miniature. The idea for the otters came from Otter Creek, which runs through the town. Though in Houghton’s version, the critters become more like Godzilla, crawling over the building and wreaking havoc.
Houghton’s students were working on individual projects this semester, so he decided to join in. Over the course of nine YouTube videos, he outlined his thinking and the amount of work that went into each step of designing the sculpture.
“I’m always imploring the students to speak about their art,” he said. “Doing the thing that I’ve asked them to do — it felt like it was time.”
He opened his first video with enthusiasm. “Just like everyone else at the start of a project, I’ve got some big ideas and a bunch of naïveté about how easy and fun it will all be,” Houghton told the camera.
Courtesy of Daniel Houghton
Passersby admiring "Mutant Otters Destroy Town Hall Theater"
He also used the videos to connect with people who were interested in helping out with the project and learning more about 3D modeling, including former students, local residents and one eighth grader.
Houghton answered questions in the comments section of the videos. For example: Why did he decide the otter should be 74 feet tall? Well, Houghton replied, the building is about 37 feet tall, and “if I were a monster I probably wouldn't go near a building unless I was at least twice its size.”
After several hundred hours of work, the otters and theater are now on display at the bank through January 4.