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Puzzle Project Connects Eighth Graders to World

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - There is a puzzling project under way at North Salem Middle School , literally. Each student in each of the five eighth grade classes is creating an individual artwork on a large jigsaw puzzle piece. Preliminary sketches are under way.

On January 17 and 18, the Middle School cafeteria will transform into an art studio, where the next of the project’s several phases will materialize. Once the puzzle pieces are completed, each class will assemble its pieces into a mural.

Fine Arts teacher Lauren Gardner explained, “Our theme is ‘community’ so the subjects for the five murals are academics, athletics, volunteerism, the environment and social/family. When the five murals are completed each will be exhibited in an appropriate local venue.”

The academics mural, for example, will be on display at the school. The volunteerism mural might go to Northern Westchester Hospital or one of the nursing homes; the athletics mural to the Brewster Ice Rink, perhaps. The students are currently seeking venues for their artwork, where it will be on display from April 2 to June 1.

“It will be great for the kids to see their work out in the community,” Gardner said.  “And to see how it changes an environment.” Pieces can be painted or drawn or made of words or fabrics. They can even be three-dimensional. “The important thing is “to say something meaningful to you” Gardner tells her artists.

North Salem’s puzzle project is part of a larger concept created by artist Tim Kelly of the Art is Good movement. Kelly described the Puzzle Art Installation as “a dynamic growing and traveling, group art exhibition. Artists, young and old, have contributed their individual voice collectively with other artists to form this historic puzzle art project. It is a simple way for each of us to tell our own story.”

North Salem’s goal is to exhibit the murals locally until June, then send them on to be displayed in New York City and, if all goes well, to eventually join Kelly’s international exhibit by 2013.

Gardner added, “The kids will be contributing to something historic. Through this project students will learn not only how they connect to their own community, but how they fit in with and might be different from communities around the world.”

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