(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)
Students at Dorchester's Joseph Lee School on Thursday presented Mayor Thomas M. Menino with a mosaic mural created in his likeness .
An estimated 28,000 foam tiles and hours of work by students in the school’s Sensory Arts program went into the art, which measures 9 feet by six feet. The program, which incorporates music, art, and dance, works specifically with students who have autism.
“These are special kids and I wanted to highlight them to make people aware of the autism issue,” said Menino. “It’s about being there for the kids and as the school year winds down thanking the parents and the teachers for their hard work.”
Fifty students in grades two-six participated in the art project, but it wasn’t the first mosaic the students have made.
So far ten mosaics of famous figures have been made since students started making the larger than life pieces last year.
A mosaic of Senator Elizabeth Warren has also created and she is expected to visit the school Friday for its unveiling.
“We took on this project because it’s a good way for students with autism to organize and it helps them with their academics,” explained Chris Hall, the program’s leader. “Often it’s hard to pull them away from the projects.”
Starting off as an image manipulated by Hall on a computer, the image is then projected and traced and broken down to individual squares to be added by the students. The students then fill in the patterns with the specific colors eventually creating the mosaics.
“When they see it completed they definitely feel a sense of pride,” explained Kimberly Curtis-Crowley, principal of the school. “Having someone like the mayor validate their work is really great for them and when he talks with them it also helps with their social skills.”
On Thursday Menino sat with the students as they talked about their favorite murals and asked if he liked the one they created of him.
“I love it,” Menino said.
To read more about the school's Sensory Arts program, click here.