- Rachel Frazin Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Perry Cohen was “extremely excited” to start at Jupiter High School as part of the Jupiter Environmental Research and Field Studies Academy, said his mother, Pamela Cohen.
Cohen, who disappeared at sea in 2015, is now memorialized at the high school he never got to attend by a mural that also features the Jupiter Lighthouse and heron that also appear in the academy’s logo. The mural was painted on Dec. 4 by renowned artist Shepard Fairey, who is most famous for the iconic “Hope” poster from Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Fairey painted Cohen’s face blue, surrounded by waves and an orange sky in a street-art style similar to Fairey’s other work. The circle of waves and sky is surrounded by navy stripes and white flowers on a light blue background.
Fairey did not respond to requests for comment, but, when speaking of his reason for creating the mural in January, said “I want to help create good out of something tragic.”
Pamela Cohen said in an email that Fairey “immediately committed to generously donating his talents and incorporated the elements of nature, plant life, wildlife, marine and river life and the iconic Jupiter lighthouse along with Perry’s portrait.”
The mural is painted on a wall of Jupiter High’s Perry J. Cohen Wetlands Laboratory and outdoor classroom. Perry’s parents have helped fund the outdoor classroom through the Perry J. Cohen Foundation, created to carry on Perry’s legacy and support his passions, including the arts and wildlife.
The mural is the latest part of the wetlands project to be completed, but there is still work to be done before the outdoor classroom is fully functional. Vice principal Suzanne Smith said the classroom still needs native plants and a pier, which require more funds.
When it is finished, the outdoor classroom will be available for students all over the county for field trips in addition to students at Jupiter High School, Smith said. The classroom is currently used by Jupiter High environment, art, photography and agriculture students.
The idea for the wetlands project came from a former academy teacher Philip Weinrich and students in the environmental club about 8-10 year ago, said lead environmental academy teacher Jessamyn Ramsey.
Smith said she expects the entire project to be completed by 2019, which would have been Perry’s graduation year.
“Less-fortunate children from lower-income demographics in the county will be able to take field trips to the facility and be introduced to a wonderful educational program that they can learn from and possibly set a career path towards. We believe this would make Perry very proud,” Cohen said in an email.
People interested in donating to the wetlands project can do so through the Perry J. Cohen Foundation or by visiting Jupiter High School.