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Students Across The East End Pay Homage To Martin Luther King Jr. Through Mosaic Portraits

Nicole Barylski

Southampton High School's portrait. (Courtesy Photo)

Nine Long Island high schools recently joined forces to collaborate on a unique East End Arts & Humanities Council, Inc. program, The MLK Portrait Project.

"One of our teachers, Kenneth Jackson, painted a few of his pieces of artwork in a mosaic fashion. Our Education Director Kathleen Ruscick was very inspired by those pieces of artwork that he created," Monique Parsons, East End Arts Director of Marketing & Development, noted. "From that inspiration, she developed the MLK Portrait Project, from the inspiration of Kenneth's artwork and decided to make it a collaborative piece with as many East End school districts as she could possibly garner to participate."

The mission of the project was to honor and celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. through unity, by inviting local students to work on their own individual piece, which when placed with their classmates' work becomes a whole. Budding artists were given 12 x 12 panels to create their magic on.

Students from Rocky Point, Mount Sinai, Greenport, Shelter Island, Riverhead, Southampton, Center Moriches, Eastport-South Manor, and Bridgehampton took part in the project. Each finished mosaic encompasses 16 panels, and in total, there are seven mosaics, many of which boast works from students from two different high schools. While the panels vary in style, they manage to form a cohesive piece.

The MLK Portrait Project can be seen in the East End Arts virtual gallery. The portraits were also on view at each high school for one week and can be seen in person at the EEA Main Gallery in Riverhead from Monday, April 5 through Friday, April 9. An Open Reception & Final Auction Date will be held on Saturday, April 10 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Additional viewings are available by appointment only.

The project will culminate with an auction of the panels to support EEA's scholarship fund. Bidding will be open through the end of the Open Reception.

"We've had the East End Arts scholarship fund for a very long time. The portraits that are being auctioned off, 100 percent of the proceeds go to fine arts scholarships for students in need through East End Arts. Any students that are in need of this scholarship to participate in any of our fine arts programs or workshops are welcome to apply for a scholarship to help them pay for their course," Parsons noted.

She continued, "That was really an idea that was sparked from Kathleen. She noted that these are great portraits. We're going to display them in the schools. And then later on, she was like what are we going to do after they're displayed in the schools? What do we do with them? Because each student created their own piece, nobody would necessarily be going home with an entire portrait. That's where the idea came from, to do a gallery exhibition in our main gallery, and then auction the pieces off to help support students in need."

Bid can be made on East End Arts' website, as well as by texting MLK to (631)880-4052.

EEA Main Gallery at 133 East Main Street, Riverhead. For more information, visit /www.eastendarts.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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