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Blind middle school student is recognized in a statewide art competition

Connecticut Families

WEST HARTFORD – Last April, we introduced you to Jose Nieves Roman, a middle school student with no sight and an abundance of artistic talent.

It was a story that generated a big response. “When this aired, there was a gallery in New London that reached out immediately, the State Capitol contacted us,” says art teacher, Justin Piccirillo.

Now, Jose is walking into an exhibit at the Hartford Art School on the campus of the University of Hartford, dressed to the nines, enjoying the attention that a small painting is bringing him. His teachers submitted it into a statewide competition and it was chosen, among others, to hang in a gallery for all to see.

“The part that’s most creative is up here cause the colors are more mixed-in and darker,” says Jose, as he touches the painting, a copy of a piece by professional artist, John Bramblitt, who is also blind.

A teacher starts Jose’s process by making an outline in puffy paint. “Let’s say I started here – I had to stay between this line and this line,” explains Jose.

The Connecticut Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and Exhibition starts with thousands of entries and then whittled down to the 600 pieces displayed in the gallery. Jose even earned a special honor – a silver key – and the judges had no way of knowing he’s blind.

“I’m more than proud, I’m beyond proud, he’s such an exceptional student, an exceptional person,” says Piccirillo.

Jose wants everyone to know that blind people can do almost anything and he’s not done sharing his artistic vision with the world.

“I’d like to keep going because I think I’m pretty good at it,” says Jose with a smile. “I think I should keep going.”

At the end of the competition, scholarships of $80,000 apiece will be awarded to 23 students who – like Jose – have bright futures in the arts.

Click here to learn more about the Connecticut Art Education Association, involved in the competition.

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