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Sister artists engage in friendly banner competition

11/29/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Sisters Kristen Conti Stump, Kerry Conti and Katie Conti Markey — all local art teachers — will be part of the Countdown to First Night banner display this holiday season with their students.
Photo courtesy of Kristen Stump
Banners for Akron’s Countdown to First Night display are being unveiled nightly, as of Nov. 23, as an Advent-like calendar to mark the days until Dec. 31. The banners, shown above from the 2010 holiday season, are mounted on the side of the parking deck that faces Lock 3 Park.
Photo: Ken Love
DOWNTOWN AKRON — It’s not quite sibling rivalry, but three sisters originally from Norton are involved in a friendly competition as they work on banners for Akron’s Countdown to First Night display.

All three are art teachers in Akron area schools: Kristen Conti Stump is participating for the sixth time with students at Coventry High School, while sisters Kerry Conti, an art teacher at Cuyahoga Falls High School (CFHS), and Katie Conti Markey, an art teacher at the Lippman School in West Akron, are taking part for the first time.

The three are the daughters of Sandra and Jim Conti, who still live in Norton. They are all graduates of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Downtown Akron.

Seville resident Stump said she’s tickled that her sisters have joined in the project, which features nightly unveilings of banners that are mounted on the side of the parking deck that faces Lock 3 Park as an Advent-like calendar to mark the days until Dec. 31. The unveilings began Nov. 23.

“They always hear me talk about it, because it’s a big deal down to the wire sometimes,” said Stump, who is the oldest sister. “It was funny because Katie called me and said, ‘This is so scary; I can’t believe I took this on.’”

The sisters admit they aren’t revealing too much about their ideas to each other.

“I’m very competitive, so we have to make this outstanding,” said Conti, who lives in Copley and is in her fifth year at CFHS. “Without giving too much away, our banner has a Santa, but he’s going to be a contemporary Santa. We’ll have some influences from the Northern Lights and from the different art movements.”

That banner will be unveiled Dec. 7, Conti said.

Stump, who previously taught at Coventry Middle School, said her students’ banner this year was created with the theme “Spread the Magic” and will explore what the holidays are through a child’s eyes. It will be unveiled Dec. 6.

Markey, the youngest sister, who lives in Sagamore Hills, is in her first year at the Lippman School. She said she’s enjoying the experience of creating the banner with her seventh- and eighth-grade students.

“It’s my first year, and I’m not very competitive,” she said, noting that her sisters are working with older students. “But my students are all competitive and they want to be the best.”

She said her students are working on a Hanukkah theme for their banner, which will be unveiled Dec. 14.

The sisters said they find it amusing that all three have become art teachers, but they credit their parents with influencing them in their career choices.

“My mom was always involved with crafts, so we always had some type of craft on the table,” Stump said. “Dad draws and paints, and both parents were teachers at one point. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

All three said they hope to support each other and attend the unveilings. The events take place at Lock 3 Park, 180 S. Main St., at 7 p.m.

“What I’m looking forward to is the end result, being able to be there together and share our work together,” Stump added.

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