RALEIGH, N.C. — In a nondescript office just off Millbrook Road, there stands a 7-foot-tall beast built of secondhand computer monitors, washed-up motherboards and picked-apart keyboards — a towering elephant constructed by Joe Carnevale, creator of Raleigh's famous Barrel Monster.
Its tail is fashioned from power cords, wrapped into a braid. Its legs are sculpted from discarded computer shells, stacked on a pallet and sturdy enough to shake.
Its trunk is fabricated from old speakers, each the size of a softball, molded into a giant curlicue.
And behind the cybernetic pachyderm, a snow shovel sits full of droppings made from old cooling fans.
"It was a bit of a challenge working with that stuff," said Carnevale, a history major at N.C. State University. "I had to take the speakers apart, screw them together and then reassemble them."
The most interesting thing about Carnevale's elephant, though, is its origin.
For the past five years, the North Raleigh nonprofit agency Purple Elephant has taken donated computers, rebuilt them and delivered them free to needy children in boys and girls clubs. What the agency couldn't upgrade, it recycled, making a bit of cash to run the operation.
What the agency needed, though, was some exposure. Carnevale, meanwhile, needed some charity work.
Last spring, you may remember, he found nationwide notoriety for scavenging a few orange traffic barrels from a construction zone on Hillsborough Street and shaping them into a giant, fang-toothed beast.
Found, arrested and convicted, Carnevale became an immediate guerrilla artist-hero, being interviewed on National Public Radio and winning support even from the company that owned the barrels.
Still, to clear his record, he had to work 50 hours of community service.
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