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Massena Central students unveil Pablo Picasso artwork

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MASSENA - A famous Pablo Picasso painting, “Guernica,” was unveiled in the Massena High School gymnasium Thursday.

It wasn’t the original painting, but the mural that was unveiled was a close replica created by eight students in Joseph Boyle’s Spanish 5 classroom as part of a culminating art activity. The other half of the class created a PowerPoint presentation about the piece of Picasso artwork.

Student Marissa Manley said the mural, which measures 8 feet by 16 feet, was done by four teams of two students each. The original size of the Picasso painting was 25 1/2 feet tall and 25 feet long.

“In terms of projects, this is the most spectacular one we’ve done,” Mr. Boyle said.

Because of its size, the painting was split up into quadrants.

“We split it into four parts. Two people worked on each part,” Ms. Manley said.

“They each got a little section on it,” student Sarah Lynch, the project manager, said.

Once each section of the mural was completed - a process that took about two weeks - the four parts were joined together to create one big mural that was officially unveiled on Thursday as parents visited with teachers to receive their students’ report cards.

“It was really fun learning to work with each other and communicate,” Ms. Manley said. “It was a pressure situation because we had a short time.”

The students had 40 minutes of class time each day to work on the project.

“I think it looks really good,” she said.

Ms. Lynch was selected by her fellow students to serve as project manager and oversee the creation of the mural. Among her tasks was making sure everybody was on track with their part of the project and, once completed, ensuring the students were able to use the gymnasium for their unveiling.

“We wanted to be able to unveil it here,” Ms. Lynch said as she and the other students waited for 1 p.m. when the unveiling was scheduled to take place.

“It’s an exciting event for the students,” Mr. Boyle said. “Sarah has really taken a strong leadership role. She led by example. She asked for opinions and included all the people. These guys really pushed hard to get this done. It’s really made it easy for me.”

“I was ready for the challenge,” Ms. Lynch said. “I was really proud of everyone.”

Mr. Boyle said the Spanish 5 students took on the culminating project following their in-depth study on Spanish artists.

The painting was created by Picasso during the Spanish Civil War, in response to the bombing of Guernica, a small city in the Basque Country.

According to a report prepared by the students, Picasso was ordered in 1937 to create a mural for the World’s Fair. When he heard about the destruction of Guernica by the Nazis, who launched fire bombs on the city on April 26, 1937 to test new weapons, he decided to paint his version of Guernica. It was displayed in the Spanish Pavilion in July 1937.

“It was one of the paintings we studied. It relates to the Spanish Civil War,” Mr. Boyle said.

“I like the meaning of it,” Ms. Lynch said.

The mural was on display for an afternoon session of parent-teacher conferences, as well as an evening session Thursday night.

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