Feature: Senior completes 'Boston Strong' mosaic

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The Newtonite

Senior Irina Rojas and congressman Joe Kennedy put down tiles for the Boston Strong mosaic Rojas organized.
Senior Irina Rojas and congressman Joe Kennedy put down tiles for the “Boston Strong” mosaic Rojas organized.

by Jessica Tharaud

After the tragic Boston Marathon bombings last year, the community was shaken to its core. Senior Irina Rojas saw the shock in the community and decided to create an art project involving the entire school. With help from faculty and students, Rojas finished a mosaic mural depicting the Boston skyline before this year’s spring vacation, helping to aid the healing process after the terrifying event last spring.

When school resumed for the first time since the bombings, Rojas approached ceramics teacher Cindy Massoff and photography teacher Tom MacIntyre with an idea.

First, Rojas thought of creating a “display of positive sticky notes.” After some thought, Rojas realized that she wanted to make something “permanent” that would include a variety of students, according to Rojas. She considered making a mural out of sticky notes that would depict the city of Boston or the slogan “Boston Strong,” but eventually decided on a ceramic mural because it would allow the participation of many students.

“I wanted it to be a community project,” said Rojas. “I wanted it to be something that anyone and everyone could get involved.”

Rojas added that “the students who helped will be able to feel like they have left a little piece of themselves” at this school when they graduate, and that they “could feel like they are part of something important.”

To start the process of creating a mosaic, Rojas began by sketching the design used as a basis for the mural, which is four by six feet large. The mural depicts a nighttime view of the Boston skyline, made of colorful ceramic tiles that anyone could place.

Later on, Rojas discovered a local muralist, Joshua Winer, online. She contacted him for help making the design a reality. But in order to buy materials for the project and to pay Winer for his help, Rojas needed a grant. Eventually, Rojas found the Radlo family, who provided $3000 to fund the mural.

Then, the project truly was able to go into motion. Rojas involved other students in creating the mosaic by laying down tiles. “One of the best parts of the mural was that so many people participated in creating it,” said senior Aly Rabin, who helped with the mosaic.

Senior Mackey Howe, who also contributed to the mural, added that Rojas “was always so grateful for any work you could do, no matter how much or little.”

Rojas “would always invite the people passing by to put down a tile or two,” added Rabin. Even Superintendent David Fleishman and  congressman Joe Kennedy contributed to the mural, according to Rojas.

Senior Brewster Taylor enjoyed contributing to the mural because it is a “beautiful piece of artwork that has so much meaning behind it.”

Rabin added that the mural is significant because of everything the community has “endured in the last year” and the “collaborative experience” that it provided for students at this school.

The creation of the mural was also featured on local television network WCVB. For now, the mural is on display at City Hall, but will return permanently to this school on Art Morning, according to Rojas.