Philly kids to color world’s largest drawing, made by a local artist

The Franklin Institute brings back Dyymond Whipper-Young’s record-breaking sketch so her students can color it in.

Dyymond Whipper-Young, an art teacher at Independence Charter School created a world-record-breaking drawing for the Franklin Institute's Creativitiy Exhibition. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Dyymond Whipper-Young, an art teacher at Independence Charter School created a world-record-breaking drawing for the Franklin Institute's Creativitiy Exhibition. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

In this week of Philly world records, an attempt to make the world’s largest cheesesteak received pushback for actually being several hundred sandwiches placed end-to-end, totaling 500 feet.

The world’s largest drawing, however, is contiguous. For real.

Dyymond Whipper-Young composed a 6,510-square-foot drawing, or somewhere between the size of a Wawa and the floor of the Wanamaker building’s Grand Court. She drew it on large pieces of Tyvek assembled on the floor of the Franklin Institute as part of its current exhibition Crayola IDEAworks.

Whipper-Young beat out the previous record-holder, the Italian artist FRA!, whose 6,120-square-foot drawing was sponsored by the electronics company Xiaomi, which makes cell phones and drawing tablets. True to his sponsor, FRA!’s drawing resembles a gigantic doodle.

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On the other hand, Whipper-Young drew a fantastic landscape of oceans, plants, a city of tall buildings, a sky with clouds and airplanes, and even a moonscape. All the pieces work together, spatially.

Dyymond Whipper-Young (upper left), adds the color to her world-record-breaking drawing at the Franklin Institute, with the help of her nieces, Makenzie Ritter, 11, and Emerald Whipper, 4. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

“When you look at all the past people that have broken the record, it’s not composition-based. It was not a lot of measuring involved and perspectives. But this was,” she said. “Since this was a composition, I had to map it and climb up this tall ladder and look at it and make sure everything is correct. That was hard.”

Whipper-Young, an artist and educator, composed the work over a feverishly busy five days in January, using an exhibition space at the Franklin Institute before it was partitioned to host the Crayola exhibition. Per the rules of the Guinness World Records, the drawing must be created by a single person.

Few people saw it. Made during the pandemic, after the drawing was documented the Tyvek was immediately rolled up and stored so the Franklin Institute could start to build its Crayola exhibition.

Workiers lay out the panels of Dyymond Whipper-Young’s world-record-breaking drawing on the floor of the Franklin Institute entrance hall. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

On Tuesday it was unrolled once again and taped down on the floor of the Franklin’s grand rotunda, under the gaze of the Ben Franklin statue. What is on the floor of the Franklin Institute now is less than half of the entire drawing. The whole thing would not fit inside the rotunda. The moonscape, for example, could not be included.

“It’s so big. What you’re looking at is huge, but it’s almost like my house— it was like five times  the square footage of my house,” said Whipper-young. “It’s almost hard to imagine.”

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On Wednesday, about 30 of her students from Independence Charter School West will color in the drawing. It will be the first time she will see them outside of a computer monitor.

“I’m, like, a pandemic teacher. I started in the beginning of the school year and I never got to see them in person,” said Whipper-Young. “But I built such strong bonds and connection with them. So tomorrow I feel like it’s our first day of school. I’m really excited.”

The kids have been part of the project from the beginning. They were there the moment Whipper-Young got the call from Crayola informing her she got the job. She interrupted a Zoom class to take that call. The kids advised her to include rocket ships and the surface of the moon in the drawing, which she did.

When they color her drawing, Whipper-Young will let her students make their own creative decisions. This is not paint-by-numbers.

“I’m the type of artist where there’s no such thing as mistakes,” she said. “One thing I don’t like is people being anxious about art and getting frustrated. I feel like this is the time to release. It should be therapeutic, if anything. I’ll let them run wild with creativity.”

Visitors to the Franklin who enter the rotunda on Wednesday will be guided around the drawing by rope barriers. After it is colored, the drawing will once again be rolled up and stored, waiting for the next 6,500-square-foot opportunity to reveal itself.

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