MLK Portrait Project

Each year, East End Arts inspires area high school students to participate in a unique community project honoring civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Inspired by an Icon

In 2021, East End Arts teamed up with a number of local high school arts classes and clubs with the idea of unity through artistic collaboration by creating mosaic portraits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Through the MLK Portrait Project, students unleash their creativity to create individual 16 panels that come together in communion to create a 48″ x 48″ mosaic portrait of MLK. Each school created unique depictions with a common theme. 

Students deep dive into the life and impact of their selected muse, learning how the power of the individual is amplified in the community. Combing the individual panels of each piece together to create a unified mosaic and then bringing all the mosaics together to create a unified exhibition, demonstrate the power of unity through artistic collaboration. 

Since then, the portraits have expanded to include civil rights leaders throughout American history. Please enjoy this year’s selection of portraits. Artwork is currently on display at the individual schools, coming together at a public location in February. Each piece is for sale, with proceeds going to the EEA art and music scholarship fund.

A Reception to Celebrate the Student Artists

A Reception to Celebrate the Student Artists will be held on Friday, March 1, 2024, at the East End Arts School Gallery at 141 East Main Street.
4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Viewing Times: February 20 – February 29 10:00 to 3:00. Private viewings can be scheduled at 631. 369. 2171

We will once again have the People’s Choice awards, you can stop by during viewing hours, or come to the Reception to Celebrate the Student Artists on March 1st.

It is an amazing group of portraits this year, and as you know the real impact is seeing them in person.

List of Schools

  • Center Moriches – ARETHA FRANKLIN
  • Center Moriches – FAITH RINGGOLD
  • Comsewogue – AUDREY LORDE (older)
  • East Hampton – ALI FORNEY
  • Hampton Bays – DAISY GASTON BATES
  • Mattituck – AUDREY LORDE
  • Mount Sinai – JANE BOLIN
  • Riverhead – AUDREY LORDE
  • Shelter Island – SHIRLEY CHISHOLM
  • Southampton – CLAUDETTE COLVIN
  • Three Village Academy – DAISY GASTON BATES
  • William Floyd – GORDON PARKS
  • William Floyd – CORETTA SCOTT KING

See photos below.

In the News!

The MLK Portrait Project is in the news! Click here to check it out.

Here are the choices this year:

16 new sample photos and brief bios to exemplify their significance in the Civil Rights Movement.

Through the MLK Portrait Project, students unleash their creativity to create individual panels that come together in communion to create a portrait of a civil rights leader. Students learn how the power of the individual is amplified in the community.

Once complete, the mosaic portraits first hang in their corresponding schools and then are displayed in a public gallery. The originals are sold at auction and the proceeds support the East End Arts School scholarship for art students.

Build your collection and participate in the annual MLK Portrait Project. It’s a fabulous way to support current high school art students and future students in need of financial assistance.

Portrait sales open January 15, 2024.

For those new to the MLK Portrait Project and as a refresher for returning participants, the process remains unchanged. After choosing your image, ideally in a striking black and white format, you will divide it into 16 squares. Each of your students will be responsible for one square, with the possibility of some students taking on two squares if your school has fewer participants. The true magic lies in allowing each student to express themselves through their unique artistic style, which collectively breathes life into the final portrait. While perfection isn’t a prerequisite, maintaining a sense of continuity is key since it is a portrait.

Our time-tested approach to creating the final portrait remains consistent, following these essential dates:

  • Official Project Commencement: Wednesday, November 1, 2023
  • Completion, Assembly, and Photography: January 11, 2024
  • Virtual Gallery and Auction Opens: January 15, 2023 (MLK Day)
  • School Display: January 15 – February 9, 2024
  • Portrait Pickup: Week of February 12, 2024
  • Public Viewing at East End Farmers Market, Riverhead: Saturdays, February 17 – March 2, 2024
  • Final Day of Virtual Gallery and Portrait Sales: March 2, 2024


Here are a few photos of students and their portraits from some of the schools: