Giant puzzle with pieces from around the world coming together with help from Staten Island


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. –When it’s completed, it will be taller than a giant and wider than a tugboat, and will include tidbits of thousands of people’s lives.

It will be a colossal puzzle with thousands of segments, each of which will be designed by people from across the world, and it will be on display this time next year somewhere in New York City.

The latest additions to the giant jigsaw were 50 pieces designed Wednesday by students from South Richmond High School, Pleasant Plains, and Bernstein Intermediate School, Huguenot.

The project is the brainchild of Tim Kelly, an artist who wanted to create something massive to show why art shouldn’t be minimalized.

“The goal is just to really blow people’s minds,” Kelly said. “I just want people to be able to get to it and see that art’s as important as anything in your life. It will leave no dispute that art is valuable and a form of expression that can be utilized by many people.”

So far, Kelly has collected 4,000 puzzle pieces, each a 24 inch-by-24 inch foam board. They have come from people in 14 states and four countries.

Not all of the project participants are schools; some are individuals who have reached out to him through, while others are groups like Compassionate Friends, which comprises parents dealing with the loss of a child.

The project was received with resounding enthusiasm at South Richmond High School and Bernstein Intermediate, where students — some from an art class, but most with special needs — thought about what means the most to them in life and how to express it on paper. The get-together, at Bernstein Intermediate, was organized by South Richmond High School teacher Rhonda Tasca.

“They had a great time laughing and coming up with ideas,” Kelly said. “The project is so great because it runs the gamut from age to subject, from love to peace to Pokemon. You can literally cover everything.”

In one case, he said a student with special needs had his head in his hands and looked extremely frustrated trying to get started on his project. One of the artists grabbed a blank puzzle piece, plopped down across from him and began drawing.

Before they knew it, the student was engaged, asking questions and designing his own piece.

Published by SI LIve: Friday, November 05, 2010

photo: Staten Island Advance/Irving Silverstein

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