- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

ST. LOUIS (AP) - An 18-year-old high school senior who uses math to make art has graduated from Rubik’s Cubes to crayons.

Last fall, Connor Wright used 5,980 Rubik’s cubes to create a mural of Stan Musial at Ballpark Village.

The Magic House called soon after, asking Wright to create its own mural.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1VruWXh ) reports that this time, Wright is creating a 30-foot-long, 2.5-ton mosaic of the St. Louis riverfront skyline using 300,000 crayons, 132 boxes and 500 tubes of glue - all in three months.

The crayons are being stacked and glued on top of each other, with their flat ends making the pixels of a picture that portrays the St. Louis riverfront.

Wright figured out the design in two months, crafting a crayon-by-crayon map using his own algorithm and eye for art, which he has developed since he was young.

In four days, Wright and his family sorted thousands of crayons into baggies by color, so that each of the 132 boxes that will make up the mural hand bags for the exact number of crayons it needed.

Then he shipped 90 of those boxes to schools and nonprofits around the St. Louis area for children to complete themselves, by gluing the crayons following grids Wright provided.

More than 1,000 children can say they had a part in making the mosaic happen. Wright’s family and friends are helping him make the rest, and the final product will be unveiled Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, the Magic House is thrilled with Wright and more than happy to foot the $25,000 bill for the materials.

Crayons make for an ideal mosaic material, Wright said, because they’re consistent in size and offer a lot of colors to work with - Wright is using 77, compared to five Rubik’s Cube colors on the Musial mural.

A crayon’s flat end is smaller than a square panel on a Rubik’s Cube, which lets Wright create a mural that has more pixels, increasing the resolution and making the picture look more realistic.

This type of art is called pointillism, a post-Impressionistic style that originated in the late 1800s and uses individual dots of color to form a picture.

Wright knew back in third grade that he would use math to make art. He’s emailed and Skyped artists in New York and Germany to learn how.

Math makes art precise and less arbitrary for him, he said. It helps him know exactly what he has to do to finish an art piece.

“I could combine the exactitude of math and the freedom of art to use both the left and right sides of my brain,” he said.

Wright wears black boat shoes with no socks, a navy Ralph Lauren long-sleeve polo shirt and pink and white cotton shorts. He’s a bundle of activity and philanthropy, a senior high school student who is still waiting to hear where he will study next year.

He’s worked every day at the Magic House for two weeks, including weekends, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., forgoing classes with his teachers’ support.

He won’t accept a dime for his work and is donating what would have been his commission to the Magic House, which in turn will give 5,000 underprivileged kids a free night at the museum.

Wright has a resume he could boast about, but doesn’t.

There are the collections of books he donated last summer to four schools in East St. Louis. He also happens to be the student council president at St. Louis Priory School, chief photographer for his school paper, a member of mock trial and an Eagle Scout.

When his mother listens to him list his achievements, she rests her chin on the heel of her hand and says nothing. None of this is new to her anymore.

He deflects praise with an embarrassed laugh. He says hello, not hi, to every Magic House employee who walks by him in the museum.

He said he did so many of these projects because of the people he’s met on the streets of St. Louis, where he’s taken Humans of New York-style portraits for yet another project he started at his high school newspaper.

Some of them came from circumstances very different from his. Older people who said they don’t believe in going to college, maybe simply because they know they could never afford it, were talking to a teenager from Town and Country for whom college isn’t a question of when, but where.

He loves math and art, but this gap in educational opportunities is the very issue he wants to study and solve in college and after. This mural is one way for him to do that.

“I realized that this was not just a lack of resources at school,” he said. “I wanted to get started on that mission in St. Louis and America.”


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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