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Shelter Island student art work honors Civil Rights icon Congressman John Lewis

Just in time for Black History Month, a group of Shelter Island High School students have completed an entry into the East End Arts Third Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Portrait Project. 

Their submission will be displayed at a venue to be identified with art work created by students in a number of North and South fork high schools.

Students were challenged to pay tribute to the Civil Rights leader through artistic expression. Art teacher Catherine Brigham said students in grades 10 through 12 who are enrolled in drawing and painting and sculpture classes were chosen to create the artwork.

Participants who created the entry are Kat Austin, Alfred Brigham, Alexandra Burns, Betzaida Campos, Hayden Davidson, Dariana Duran Alvarado, John Febles Torres, Mary Gennari, Bazzy Quigley-Dunning, Margaret Schultheis and Harrison Weslek.

Prior to the December holiday break, they discussed the work they would create. When they returned, they were given a list of Civil Rights leaders from which they selected the late Congressman John L. Lewis, to learn about his contributions to American history.

They watched a documentary, “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” about the former congressman and discussed his contributions to the Civil Rights movement. The former congressman was one of the six major organizers of the 1963 March on Washington at which Reverend King delivered his epic “I Have a Dream” speech.

The former congressman participated in the 1960 Nashville sit-ins, the Freedom Rides and was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Mr. Lewis has been credited with leading the voting rights movement with marches in Selma, Ala., that spurred President Lyndon Johnson to fight for and win passage of the Voting Rights Act.

In 2011, President Barack Obama presented the congressman with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Shelter Island contribution to the competition is in the school library, but prior to the February school break will be shown at a local gallery for the community to view. All portraits will be put up for auction and proceeds will go to the East End Arts Scholarship Fund that provides financial assistance to participants in art classes and college prep portfolio workshops.

Entries from the schools are available at the East End Arts Virtual Gallery at eastendarts.org/art-galleries. An auction is underway now and will continue through March 4.

The portraits are also being displayed at the Riverhead Farmers Market between Feb. 18 and March 4.