To recognize the Martin Luther King holiday this year, all Shining Mountain students in grades 1-12 gathered in the gym and collaborated to make a large mosaic portrait of Dr. King. The project was prepared as a mystery drawing, organized by the high school Student Leadership Group. A grid was placed over a picture of Dr. King and the picture cut into many tiny pieces; each student received three squares from the grid with instructions to use crayons to draw the colors from the squares on post-it notes. As students finished drawing, the colored squares were assembled on large sheets of foam board and the completed panels were hung on the gym wall. None of the other students knew what the final image would be, and there was much joyful anticipation. Intrigue and guessing about the picture turned to satisfaction as the face emerged. Everyone gathered under the portrait while a few HS students read inspirational words from Dr. King, and choir teacher Cobus du Toit led the gathering in singing “Oh Freedom.”
Many positive insights come from this experience. Pursuing art together is valuable. When everyone contributes, even just a little, substantial and meaningful things can be achieved in a short time. Similarly, the finished portrait shows that each person’s contribution is essential – if even one small square were missing from the 6’x9’ mosaic, that flaw would be apparent. The project also reveals the way that many individualities can blend harmoniously. All the students colored their squares based on their own interpretation and personality – some faithfully captured the colors and forms they were given, while others were more fanciful. Viewed up close, those individual differences are notable; however, when the final product is observed from across the room the distinctions give way in favor of a unified and living whole. Dr. King tells us, “we must accept finite disappointment and never lose infinite hope.” This was a moment of hope.