Through our partnership with Step Into Art, Epiphany 6th graders are introduced to portraiture using an interactive method that helps students observe, imagine, interpret, and make meaningful connections between art and their own lives. The program engages students in extensive creative work as artists and writers, and concludes with a festive exhibition at Harvard.
Led by Step Into Art founder Abby Rischin and senior educator Susan Foster Jones, students are introduced in the classroom to portraits by Copley, Picasso, Nolde, and Lawrence. Later they visit the Harvard Art Museums to see these paintings – and many others — “face-to-face.” The students explore and sketch in the museum galleries and are encouraged to think about inspiration for their own artworks through group conversations that emphasize artistic choices and the artistic process. Once back in the studio at school, they work intensively under the guidance of Epiphany art teacher Sierra Rothberg to create paintings that express their own identity and experiences.
The Step Into Art writing component features novelist Vineeta Vijayaraghavan, who joins Epiphany English teachers as they invite each student to compose a story that gives voice to a chosen “character” from one of the portraits they have studied. The students then write about a time when they were sad or lonely, and learn how to integrate these felt emotions into their compositions.
In preparation for the exhibition, students work with Abby and Susan to compose written reflections on their own paintings, commenting on the artistic process, the choices they made, and the way their artwork relates to who they are and what is important to them. After the students practice speaking about their paintings and writing, the program culminates in an exhibition of their creative work at Harvard’s Gutman Library.