Local News

Photomosaic project aims to help student cancer victim

AVON PARK - Highlands County students young and old are drawing self-portraits to create a Photomosaic representing a caring and supportive community and to help an Avon Park High School student in her battle with brain cancer.

Avon Park High students started working on their self-portraits in the auditorium Monday while reading coach Candis Dean gave an overview of the project.

"We have the opportunity to be the first community to do a Photomosaic," she told the students.

While as a student in the MIT Media Lab, Robert Silvers designed the computer algorithms to create Photomosaics, which are images comprised of thousands of smaller images or photographs.

Photomosaics have been created depicting John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Lady Liberty, Vincent van Gogh and the Titanic. Many magazine covers have been created using the trademarked mosaic process.

Four people are spearheading the Highlands County Photomosaic Committee: Instructional technology resource teacher Kim Douberley, teacher Tina Starling, retired teacher BettyAnn Lee and Sebring artist Anne Watson.

The project is being offered to all students in the county, including private schools, home school students and South Florida State College.

At Avon Park High, students watched a video about their fellow student, Jade Jackson, who has undergone brain surgery and chemotherapy in her fight against cancer.

Dean told the students that a minimum pool of 3,000 images is needed to create a Photomosaic.

Students who donate a $1 to the Jade Jackson Cancer Fund will be able to add their self-portraits into the pool of images that will be used to create the as-yet-undecided final image.

After a brief art lesson, the students went to work etching their images with crayons and colored pencils, using one of about 10 head and shoulder outlines.

Instead of the self-portrait, students had the option of drawing things that represent them.

Choosing to do the representative image, senior Karl Labra started his drawing with the word "Ashley" in the center in large block letters outlined in black and filled with red.

"My girlfriend," he said.

Labra had other ideas to fill up the paper.

"I am going to write about music and gaming, basically what I do," he said.

Band percussionist senior Iris Greth had two themes going in her image - music and blue.

She drew music notation elements such as the bass and treble clefs and the sharp and flat signs in mostly blue with a bit of lavender.

Her favorite color is green so Greth explained her use of blue.

"I decided to branch off from my normal activities," she said. "There are more blues in the box," of crayons, she added.

Senior Darius Burns worked on an actual self-portrait.

"I am attempting to draw myself," he said.

He had printouts of drawing lessons, but the sample illustrations showed caricatures.

Burns confirmed he was doing a "serious" portrait.

He was using a variety of colored markers.

"The more color you have, the more better the picture is, supposedly," Burns said.

From across the table, Greth chimed in, "I am going to use purple."

Douberly explained why photographs will not be used in the project.

"It makes it more personal to have student art work used and it allows the students to be more involved in the process," she said. There are Common Core standards now that address "visual literacy."

They also did not want to encounter any copyright issues with submitted photos that may have been taken by someone who has not released the rights to publish those pictures, Douberly said.

The overall image is still in the development stage.

"We are hoping that some of the high school art students will be submitting possible images for consideration," Douberly said. "It is possible that art students at South Florida State College will be included in creating designs for consideration."

The criteria for the final image is that it reflect a caring supportive community with generous and compassionate members who are concerned about our children, students and families.

For more information on Jackson, check the Jade's Journey Facebook page, which offers support for Jackson, who is called a Wonder Woman for her strong and positive outlook in her fight against cancer.