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TYPE=Worldwide English Feature
TITLE=New Leaf Project Plants Politics
BYLINE=Rosanne Skirble

INTRO:In this political season -- with the American presidential election less than three weeks away -- it is not only politicians who are planting seeds of change. While the candidates may be the most visible in news reports and in advertisements on radio and television -- they are not alone in the cultivation of political ideas. As VOA s Rosanne Skirble reports, an American artist has put her democratic expression on the face of a leaf.

TEXT:Carol Ann Newsome came to Washington with bags filled with leaves. Not the kind that fall off trees, but small leaf portraits on pieces of wood that the Ohio native hand-painted in her studio. Ms. Newsome has a collection of 537 miniature paintings -- each one dedicated to a member of Congress, plus one for the President and the Vice President.


CAROL ANN NEWSOME (:20) There s a label on the back the label says, In honor of the season you have just turned over a new leaf for the office of -- This one is for Michigan Representative District Five currently held by James Barcia. You may keep this new leaf, turn it over as often as you wish. And it says New Leaf is a self-funded project by Carol Ann Newsome and it has my e-mail address on the back.

TEXT: Her bags are heavy, but the load gets lighter as she scatters a random trail of painted leaves throughout the city. The New Leaf Project is a curious blend of politics and art. The artist says it has a lot to do with attitudes and ideas.



CAROL ANN NEWSOME: A new leaf is making a positive change, and I associate that with Washington because with this election coming up, everybody is thinking about new directions, about positive changes they want to be making for the future, about what we really want for the country. And, I thought about putting these new leaves in hands of people, anybody because this is a democratic society, and every person out there has a responsibility and a part to play. So, really New Leaf is a celebration of the democratic process here.

SKIRBLE: So, you are planting these leaves. You are gardeners of a sort. You are planting the leaves for people to pick up. What you you hope they see when they see this New Leaf?

CAROL ANN NEWSOME: There s two things are going on here. I am thinking that in an election you get a lot of negativity, you get a lot of mud slinging, a lot of accusations, a lot of hearing about what s wrong with the country. And, I really want to do something positive to remind people that this is really great that we have this opportunity to have an election. The second thing and that is that the general public is really alienated from art, and they don t see it as something that they have in their lives.

TEXT:Carol Ann Newsome wants to change that. As she places one of her leaf portraits against a tree in front of the U-S Capitol, she says she doesn t wait around to see who claims it. She moves quickly and says, what s important is the art of giving.


CAROL ANN NEWSOME (:23) I tend to approach this as a sort of brownie or elf and you do this in the cover of darkness, and this thing (the painting) just appears, and there is nothing attached to it. It s a relationship strictly between the piece of art work and the person who is finding it. I think that it is really important. So, I try to remove myself from the area as quickly as possible.

TEXT:Some passersby simply don t see the small portraits, on the colorfully painted wooden blocks. Others stop and look, but don t take. The artist is always searching for just the right place.


CAROL ANN NEWSOME (:30) I ve got two concerns here, one is safety. I have to be concerned that somebody might trip over this thing. So, I have to be careful about that. The other concern is where can you put this that maybe it will be framed up or will catch people s eye. So some of them are very unobtrusive and others are in a spot that can be seen from fifty to 1-hundred feet (15-30 meters) away.

TEXT:Children don t often miss them and are delighted with the artful discovery.



SKIRBLE: A painting, you just found this?


SKIRBLE: What does it look like?

CHILD: A leaf.

SKIRBLE: Are you going to being doing (with the leaf)?

CHILD: I might take it home and put it on my wall.

TEXT:As the young girl pockets the leaf, Carol Ann Newsome doesn t look back. The Ohio artist still has a long day ahead, planting her leaf portraits throughout Washington, D.C. It s her reminder to those who find them to celebrate art and the political process.



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