She’s just a mantis. Standing in front of a town. Asking it to love her.
That’s what Kokomo’s newly installed, 17-foot-tall praying mantis sculpture posted recently on her Facebook page.
Some people in town just can’t bring themselves to love her, though.
The mantis has been called “freaky,” “weird,” “hideous” and “creepy” by posters on Facebook.
More than one person has said they don’t understand why KokoMantis is here. They said she doesn’t belong.
KokoMantis had a message for them.
“To those who are confused about or opposed to my being here, I would say that I wish they felt differently, but mainly, I want them to know that no matter how they feel about me, I am extremely happy that THEY are here,” KokoMantis said recently through Facebook. “They’re awesome, and their voice is important. Also, I have no idea why I’m here either.”
She was erected at the corner of Sycamore and Washington streets on Oct. 5.
According to the Kokomo-Howard County Arts League, she is 17 feet tall, 22 feet long from nose to tail and 6 feet wide.
She is artwork made from re-purposed metal. Her torso and wings are made from World War II fuel pontoons, and her legs are made from stop light arms, the arts league posted on Facebook.
Developer Scott Pitcher came up with the idea for the mantis, but he said it was a public art project funded by private donations.
Pitcher approached metal fabricator Scott Little about the project two years ago.
“I thought it was crazy,” Little said of the idea.
But he agreed to bring the giant bug to fruition, just as he had the spider that sits a few blocks away from KokoMantis.
Little said he spent about 220 hours perfecting the details of the mantis.
Then, when the sculpture was pieced together at its new home, it took on a life of its own, quite literally.
A week after the mantis popped up on Pitcher’s property, a KokoMantis page popped up on Facebook.
The insect makes about a dozen posts a day on her page, covering everything from her body and family to entertainment and philosophy.
On Oct. 19 she posted, “Someone told me today I have ‘WAY too much time on [my] hands.’ I just stared at her for a while and let it sink in that I have no hands. SHAMED!!”
In just a few weeks, she managed to gather 1,151 followers on Facebook.
Some post pictures they take of the sculpture or photos of other praying mantes that show up at their homes.
Others just visit the page to compliment KokoMantis.
One person posted, “I’m glad you’re here. I wish all of the negative people would just take a minute and think about what your arrival in Kokomo means for us as a city. You have created a point of interest for downtown and are a nice reflection of the diversity of our city. My hope is that we all embrace you and like you as much as we do other landmarks like the tank in the park across the street from you or the free trolley. Peace.”
Some aren’t quite as kind.
One woman posted a comment that said KokoMantis is “stupid looking” and should be an advertisement for a bug control company. She called the sculpture a total waste of money.
KokoMantis responded with, “Sorry you think I’m stupid looking. I guess I’m lucky looks don’t really matter that much in this world. But I really think you’re pretty great.”
Inquiring minds want to know who the voice behind the mantis is.
But she prefers to remain anonymous. At least for now.
She did say that she is a writer who lives out of state but grew up in Kokomo.
No one asked her to create the character. She said she decided for herself it was something she wanted to do.
She said she suddenly started seeing a lot of mostly negative comments on Facebook about some mantis in Kokomo, her hometown.
After a friend sent her a photo of the sculpture, she quickly fell in love with the weirdness of it, she said. And the idea of creating a character for the sculpture just came to her.
“I was interested to see if it was possible to turn this stream of negativity I was seeing into something a bit more positive,” the mystery woman said in an email. “I deeply, deeply love my hometown of Kokomo. I have been looking for opportunities to be a part of the community for the past year or so. ... This was a chance for me to feel like an active part of the community even from a distance.”
The woman said she’s created a character that’s silly and kind and doesn’t take life too seriously.
KokoMantis is even running an anti-bullying campaign.
The mantis said the coolest thing she’s seen since she moved to her corner in downtown Kokomo was a girl treating her bully with kindness.
“One time I saw a girl getting picked on,” KokoMantis said during a Facebook interview. “Then not even a minute later she was helping her bully up after she fell and skinned her knee. That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. If that girl’s reading this: You just keep doing you, girl. You’re changing the world.”
KokoMantis loves the people of Kokomo. She said they are loyal, passionate, funny and creative.
Some may not like her, and they have given her a hard time about it, she said. But for the most part, her move to Kokomo has been great, the mantis said.
“I have felt very much welcomed to the city,” KokoMantis said via Facebook. “I won’t pretend it wasn’t difficult at first. I’m different. I’m a challenge to the norm. Being afraid of that is a natural reaction. But it was clear pretty quickly that I have a LOT of friends.”
She’s just a mantis. Standing in front of a town. Asking it to love her.
- Local News
Bullying reporting now required
Oliver Jackson — known in the music world as DjBigO317 — remembers being bullied by the kids on his high school football team for being small.
He told his coaches about it, but they brushed it off and told him to do the same.
Now, his 6-year-old daughter is battling issues with bullies at her school in Indianapolis, and he won’t let it go.
He is on a crusade to end bullying, and he’s taking the message beyond his daughter’s school.
The bully bashers speak out
Nineteen-year-old Trenton Lewis wants to change the message hip-hop music is sending to kids across the country.
The Kokomo High School graduate envisions songs that inspire change and songs that promote safer schools instead of ones that glorify drugs and violence. He wants to push the negativity out of music.
- Bullying statistics - May 19, 2013
State to spend $2 million to clean up voter rolls
Indiana’s bloated voter registration rolls, which officials say make elections more susceptible to fraud, will soon come under more scrutiny by the state.
- Public Eye - May 19, 2013
Fallen comrades remembered
In the 148-year history of the Kokomo Police Department, two officers have died in the line of duty. Members of the department took part in a ceremony Friday to honor not only those two, but all fallen police officers.
Local deputies play key role in arrest
A mother and her infant son are now safe, thanks in part to the determination of deputies with the Howard County Sheriff’s Department. The officers worked from the time Kristy Redenbaugh was reported missing in September 2012 until the man police allege was her captor was arrested Thursday.
Charter school to open in August
Goodwill Education Initiatives will unveil the area’s first charter school for high school dropouts Aug. 15 in downtown Kokomo.
Districts call special board meetings
Northwestern School Corp. will likely reduce the hours of about a dozen instructional assistants to avoid having to provide them with insurance.
At least two central Indiana counties have established setbacks that are essentially prohibitive of wind farm developments. Counties between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne have debated whether to allow wind farms and how to regulate them. In Howard County, wind farm opponents are trying to reopen the discussion to increase setback requirements established in the county’s code.
- More Local News Headlines
- Bullying reporting now required