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Massena High School students participate in mosaic project

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MASSENA — Several Massena High School Mohawk students had an opportunity to put their art skills to the test with a mosaic project for a local arts council.

The students took 144 canvases, each 6 inches by 6 inches, and arranged them together to form a larger mosaic picture that has been on display in the high school lobby before moving on to another school.

“The mosaic was an idea from the OAC (Onkwehon:we Arts Council) to include the community in a large-scale project to bring awareness of the OAC and to promote the arts in Akwesasne,” said Robin Logan, Massena Central’s Native American Title VII resource teacher.

The design represents the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee symbol of the Tree of Peace, which rests on the turtle’s back. The turtle is the Iroquois symbol for Mother Earth, while the dome over the handprint is representative of the sky-world or the place where life originated, according to Native American traditional legends and creation story.

Ms. Logan said they had been approached by the Onkwehon:we Arts Council before the winter break, asking if they would be interested in participating in the collaborative mosaic project that would be displayed at each participating school. Salmon River Central School, Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School and students from throughout the Akwesasne community also took part, she said.

“Each (school) got a box of tiles. Each tile was made by a different individual and in a different style, which adds to the overall uniqueness of the piece,” she said.

Bruce Boots, treasurer of the Onkwehon:we Arts Council and the artist behind the overall design, coordinated the project. He and his team designed, constructed and displayed the piece as well as reached out to the community and local youth.

“He already had it drawn out on a grid. We knew which piece we had. We even had the colors on there. He provided us the materials as well. He had it well planned out. All we had to do was paint it. We had the freedom to use whatever media we wanted. We happened to use the paint because that’s all we had here,” Ms. Logan said.

“We had our canvases for a week. We finished a box of 40 canvases in a week. Some students wanted to do multiple tiles,” she said. “It was perfect, right before winter break. It was a welcome break from their studying.”

Ms. Logan said they were grateful to have contributed to the project “that showcases the many talents of individuals within the community. The artwork itself is also a powerful message of what can be accomplished when people bring their unique talents together as part of a team.”

The Massena High School students who participated in the project were Taylene Hall, Tatum LaFrance, Shane Tarbell, Serena Hall, Sarah Cunningham, Sage Herne, Precious Anderson, Patrick Printup, Mia Arnold, Maya Swamp, Kyla Thompson, Konwahonkarawi Porter, KC Herne, Kaeliana Smoke, Jacob Arquette-Laffin, Dawson George, Bailey Thomas and Amber Thomas.

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