MERIDEN – Jose Nieves Roman is creating a hippo painting with texture, thanks to paint mixed with pumice gel. He paints with a precision that’s partly due to teamwork. “He shows me where to put my hand and then I paint inside,“ explains the twelve year old boy, gesturing towards Justin Piccirillo, an art teacher at Lincoln Middle School in Meriden.
Jose is blind…which hasn’t prevented him from making visual and tactile masterpieces like a lion painting, enhanced with yarn. His works inspire a big reaction from viewers. “They’re like, ‘Wow’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I did that,’“ he explains. Piccirillo has partnered with the 6th grader all year. “We’re all kind of learning together,“ he says.
Jose sometimes includes braille in his art. And, he recently presented a project about John Bramblitt, a Texas artist who happens to be blind, as well. He is Jose’s inspiration.
Jose is drawn to the color green, proving art is conceptual, brought to life by the joy and passion of the creator. “To me it’s happy because it reminds me of the woods, trees, grass,“ he says.
“He’s such an energetic and curious kid that the sky is the limit for him,“ says Piccirillo.
Lessons for all of us from a boy with a unique vision…and an unstoppable spirit. “What I’d really like them to know is that blind people can do anything,“ he says.
Jose hopes his works will soon be hanging in public spaces like hospitals or libraries. His wonderful team at Lincoln Middle School – including Piccirillo, his classroom teachers and his principal – will be there to support him all the way.