What is identity? Does identity change over time? Is identity shaped by your family and the communities in which you live? These questions are multi-faceted, aimed to stimulate thought, to provoke inquiry and spark more questions. This is exactly what William Eller hopes to accomplish through his new visual arts residency program at St. Margaret of Scotland School in Chicago’s south side Washington Heights neighborhood.
In this new program, students grades K-8 are utilizing the self-portrait to explore the big idea of identity. Working both individually and collaboratively, the students are using different media and materials to create self-portraits that express their own individual identities in unique ways. In addition to their appearance, some students are finding other ways to express their identity such as objects and symbols. These young artists are also learning how others perceive their identity by working with partners to create portraits of themselves and each other.
Through his program, Eller is instilling students with essential and enduring understandings which they will take with them beyond the classroom. He is helping them understand that we know ourselves the best and that different people have different ideas about what is important to their identity. He is also teaching them that a person can express his or her identity in many different ways, that one’s identity can change over time, and that one’s environment can shape one’s identity. In addition to self-awareness, Eller is also providing students with art skills and dispositions such as the ability to describe artwork using the formal elements of art (lines, shapes, colors, value, and space) and the capability to analyze how an artist uses these elements to communicate a theme. Eller is proving we’re never too young for a little self-reflection.
To see more photos from this program visit us on Flickr.
Thanks to these generous funders for supporting residency programs like this one!