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A giant puzzle mural sends a powerful message while beautifying a Houston school

Everyone loves a good jigsaw puzzle, especially when those last pieces come together and, voilà, the picture is complete.

That’s just the experience Museum of Cultural Arts Houston Art Angels and students at The Westview School shared during their making of a Discovery Mural. Participants in MCAH’s volunteer network worked with the children in co-creating the mural out of 6-by-6-foot pre-cut jigsaw pieces. Students designed, painted and drew images and words connected with the school (click on the picture above to watch a video on the project).

The Westview School is a private, non-profit school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The school was founded in 1981 to provide a structured, nurturing and stimulating learning environment for children with learning differences that prevent them from being successful in regular programs.

 “We’re taking the puzzle because we’re juxtaposing that as it is the symbol for autism. All of these people coming together to make a bigger picture to say a bigger statement." 

It’s a puzzle mural,” Rhonda Radford Adams of MCAH Art Angels explains. “We’re taking the puzzle because we’re juxtaposing that as it is the symbol for autism. All of these people coming together to make a bigger picture to say a bigger statement.

“[We want to] convey the importance of being able to let know folks know more about autism — how important it is to educate others and to get early intervention.”

Students assembled the finished puzzle pieces in the parking lot. The pieces were then mounted in the school’s foyer for all to see — especially the young artists.

“It’s something for everyone to see,” says Russell Avery, school principal. “As we take people on tours of our building, we’re going to show them this mural and the artwork and be very proud of this day.”

The effort was modeled after Pepperdine University’s Step Forward Day of Service, a simple yet significant way for communities to be good neighbors and participate in volunteering. Rotary Club of Houston Skyline helped sponsor the event with The Art Angels, who reach out on a regular basis to offer the often overlooked and under represented classes of Houston kids a chance to acknowledge themselves through art.

“This has been fabulous," says Fran Brochstien, art teacher at The Westview School. “I think the city of Houston needs to promote more of these days. We have lots of helping hands to beautify our campus and what’s even more important, lots of helping hands leaning about this special population.”

Editor's note: Hidden Houston, an interactive multimedia series, aims to reveal the many things that are unique about the Bayou City and its surrounding areas.

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