Through the eyes of students: Talented art class honors MLK

Published 4:14 pm Wednesday, January 22, 2020

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LAPLACE — Pencils, markers and coffee-stained paper clippings were among the tools East St. John High School talented art students used to depict the lasting legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Art is a lens that reflects a changing society, and instructor Derron Cook said history lessons are embedded in the fine arts curriculum to promote a well-rounded education.
It was especially important to Cook and the students to depict the change King implemented in society, the effects of which reverberated in every corner of the country.
Talented art student Kailin Zhou drew a black and white picture of King next to a bright yellow lightning bolt.
“Lightning makes no sound until it strikes,” Kailin said, quoting Martin Luther King’s thoughts on how the African American revolution started quietly and intensified in a flash of power. “I wanted to use that quote because it’s basically saying that until you take action, nothing is going to change.”
Kaitlynn Gomez wanted to draw attention to several of King’s speeches. The first was “A Time to Break Silence,” otherwise known as the “Riverside Church Speech.” King spoke out about against American involvement in the Vietnam War, claiming resources could be better used for social welfare at home. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in 1963, King defended nonviolent resistance to racism and encouraged people to take direct action against unjust laws.
Finally, the “I Have a Dream” speech marked a defining moment of the Civil Rights era.
Kaitlynn printed the text from each speech and dabbed it with coffee to make a unique background. She placed her drawing of Martin Luther King on top so he would be surrounded by his powerful words.
“MLK had multiple speeches in his life that have inspired so many people,” Kaitlynn said. “A lot of people in art only focus on one speech, but I want to bring attention to many of his speeches and make it seem like he is speaking out to the viewer.”
Ester Delatorre connects most with King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. In the background of Ester’s portrait of King is a crowd of supporters.
“Instead of actually drawing people, I just made shadows because I think that you can see there are a lot more people in the background,” Ester said. “Of course, when he says ‘I Have a Dream,’ he doesn’t just mean himself. He means other people also have a dream. As one of his quotes says, you’re not living if you don’t fight for what you believe in.”
Other students were hard at work Friday, putting finishing touches to their Martin Luther King Day art. Stanley Wilcinot created a comic with different panels representing the stages of King’s journey, from his march on Washington to his speeches that shaped the 20th Century. The right side of the artwork showed Stanley’s thoughts on MLK’s legacy with the bolded words, “Long Live the King.”

East St. John High School student Stanly Wilcinot creates artwork based on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.

Terrance Samuel drew a connection between Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, two of the most prominent people behind the Civil Rights Movement. After Parks was jailed for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, King organized the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott. Terrance’s drawing showed King standing in front of the bus, freezing that moment in history.
Jayden Anderson drew a realistic portrait of King smiling. “I wanted to keep a positive image of him and remind people of his accomplishments and what he really did to change the world,” he said.
Ethan Hooter was drawn to the quote, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
“It means that everybody should be looked at the same,” Ethan said. “I see that color does not matter. Everybody matters, and the color of your skin does not define who you are.”
Karrie Norwood used an American flag as the backdrop for her artwork, which contained scenes from the high points and low points of King’s life and the lives of his supporters.
“Some people died, but they served a purpose in showing that anyone could do anything,” Karrie said. “Everyone belongs together instead of apart.”