Expression, Connection and Other Peoples Perspective

5.5.17  (Written on a very rainy Friday in New York City)

“Expression, Connection and Other Peoples Perspective”
by Tim Kelly, coordinator of The Puzzle Project

Art and The Puzzle Project have taught me many lessons. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that Perspective is Everything.

The project offers participants a multi-layered creative experience. When you decide to express yourself creatively, you not only go on a creative journey, but the person you share your art with learns about you and a new perspective that is not their own. It is one of my favorite aspects of this project… New Perspectives.

At the very beginning of the project I worked with a kid from The David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center during an Art is Good creative workshop. Her name is Mikayla. She painted a rainbow on her puzzle piece with the words, “It Takes Both Rain and Sunshine to Make a Rainbow.” I was floored by the wisdom of such a young child. Her father died of a brain tumor. Mikayla loves making art. She told me that her Mom always says this quote to her. I think it is beautiful that she chose something her Mom says as her meaningful puzzle piece idea. Her mother, Wendy, is the grief councilor for the brain tumor center. She turned her rainy days into sunshine and a rainbow. The message is a great perspective to have when times are tough.

We are all different. Each puzzle piece is different, just like us. Each piece is someone’s perspectives or story. That is what makes the puzzle project exhibition events so interesting and inspires & fascinates me every day.

puzzle project, art is good, healing arts, rainbow, rain, sunshine, art, puzzle piece, tim kelly artist,

(Left) Created at an Art is Good Creative workshop for The David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center
(Right) The Brooklyn International High School staff at Exhibition at Brooklyn Borough Hall

After my experience with Mikayla, the story became part of my standard Puzzle Project introduction to new participating groups. When I discuss different ideas people have for their puzzle piece and why, I tell the story of Mikayla’s piece, “It Takes Both Rain and Sunshine to Make a Rainbow.”

One day I gave a project introduction at The International High School in Brooklyn, an amazing institution with a great staff and intelligent students. The students were all born and raised in another country. The staff brought me to the school, so students can make puzzle pieces about their individual immigrant experience.  I brought dozens of example pieces and spoke specifically about a few of them. I told Mikayla’s “Rainbow” story. I discussed the analogy of rain being a bad day or difficulty in life and sunshine being a good day and/or healing. The teacher informed me that it is an ESL (English as a Second Language) school and I may not want to speak too fast and should keep things simple so every student can understand. I noticed one of the students looking confused. He was a polite young man from the Middle East. I apologized to him for speaking so fast and asked him if I needed to repeat anything he didn’t understand. But the thing is, he heard me clearly and understood my words, but didn’t comprehend the logic of the analogy. He asked in the most concerned and curious way, “So, RAIN is BAD??”

This young man grew up in a family of farmers. When it rains they are elated. RAIN is GOOD! Rain is damn good. Perspective. Now that I’ve learned his perspective, I have modified my analogy with the disclaimer that RAIN is GOOD… I’ve learned this because ART is GOOD. Perspective. 

To Learn more about The David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center go to:
*Mikayla is now a teen 
counselor and assists with social media at Camp Jinka.  She has “Grown Up Jinka.”

To learn more about the Brooklyn International High School go to:

This is an excerpt from an unedited draft of the book about the Puzzle Project called, “Art is Good: the story of the artsolutely extraordinary journey of the puzzle art installation & collaborative project.” The chapter is called, “Expression, Connection and Other Peoples Perspective”