Tony Fomin made certain the tree in his front yard would not die in vain.
A row of lively, green spruces lines the Fomins’ yard, except for one outlying spruce that looks like it might not live to see another season. With the coronavirus pandemic at the forefront of students’ minds as they return to classrooms, Fomin saw the dead tree as an opportunity for a humorous, nonetheless serious, public service announcement.
Fomin is starting fifth grade next week at Bruce Elementary in Eaton.
“Wear a mask before it’s too late.”
It’s a short, not-so-sweet message relaying the student’s request for people to take mask-wearing seriously during the pandemic.
“We were going to take the dead one and remove it, so my mom thought it would be cool to put a mask on it,” Tony said. “But I was like, ’how about we put masks on all the other trees so that the dead one isn’t wearing a mask.”
Tony’s mother, Anna Fomin, said her son took the initial idea and ran with it, making the project his own. Her son’s light-bulb moment with the spruce didn’t come as a surprise to Anna, as Tony has always had an interest in art and is a talented drawer.
“I wanted to put on the sign, ’Wear a mask, help save lives’ or something like that but his message was ’before it’s too late.’ ... so he had a different vision,” Anna said.
Since the art installation went up Sunday, Anna said friends and neighbors have dropped by to check out the exhibit.
“They all think it’s fun,” Anna said.
A closer look at the spruces reveal that Tony got creative to craft eyes using Styrofoam cups with black circles pasted on the bottom. The masks were fashioned from an old bedsheet.
Soon, the unmasked spruce will be pulled from the Fomins’ yard and Tony will head back to school.
“I’m kind of nervous a little bit, but more excited than nervous,” Tony said.