The saying, “We each hold within us a piece of someone else’s puzzle,” sparked an idea Suzanne Rittmann is putting into action.

Rittmann, who co-owns The Maverick Potter in Salida, received a grant from the Salida Council for the Arts to create a regional art puzzle project.

“When the election exposed the extensive division and distrust in our society, that phrase was the first thing that came to my mind, and I wanted to create a project to bring everyone together. The vision for the puzzle was pretty instantaneous,” Rittmann said.

Her project, currently dubbed, Puzzling Evidence: New Connections, aims to foster new connections and community interaction.

Rittmann is in the process of creating a puzzle template with the help of Box of Bubbles’ Ken Brandon. The template will be about 2 feet square. Rittmann said each puzzle will have 12 to 15 pieces. “I’m planning on making four identical puzzles, so the pieces can be interchanged indefinitely,” she said. “There will be about 48 pieces in total.” The puzzle pieces will be different shapes.

All ages are welcome to participate in the project and choose a medium to illustrate their puzzle piece.

“The theme is community and the design is abstract,” Rittmann said. A few meetings will be scheduled for people who want to brainstorm ideas or collaborate on a piece. Another avenue for participation is to attend a Tuesday night open studio at the pottery gallery.

The plan is to have the puzzle templates ready for pick up at The Maverick Potter April 5. Completed pieces are due back May 17. The final puzzles will be on display on a large tabletop at The Maverick Potter during ArtWalk. Rittmann said the purpose of the project is for people to come and rearrange the puzzles, which will be exhibited through July at the gallery.

“If you really like how your piece looks with the one next to yours, you may be motivated to find out who that person is and get to know them. That’s the ‘new connections’ part. Everyone is welcome to participate, and when the project is up, I hope lots of folks will come visit the gallery and rearrange the puzzles often,” Rittmann said.

After the exhibit ends, “individual pieces will be returned to their creators or offered for sale” at a silent auction or similar event. Proceeds will go toward repaying the grant from the Council for the Arts and other local charities, she said. “If there is anything left, I want to buy a 3-D printer that the community could use.” And if anyone finds a piece that “speaks to you but you only have $30, let me know. Art should be accessible. We want art to be accessible – regardless of budget.”

If you have more questions, call Rittmann at 719-539-5112.