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 also includes an innovative writing component.
Students are introduced in the classroom to portraits by Copley, Picasso, Nolde, and van Gogh, and later visit the Harvard Art Museum to see these paintings “face-to-face.” They build on earlier observations and make a many new discoveries as they explore and sketch works throughout the galleries. Students are encouraged to think about inspiration for their own artworks through group conversations that emphasize artistic choices and the artistic process, and once back in the studio they create artworks that express their own identity and experiences.
The writing component features novelist Vineeta Vijayaraghavan, who joins Epiphany English teachers as they invite each student to compose an imaginary dialogue with a chosen “character” from one of the four portraits they have studied. The students then write about a time when they were lonely or sad, and learn how to integrate these reflections into their compositions.
In preparation for the exhibition, students compose written reflections on their studio projects, 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 students practice speaking about their paintings and writings, the program culminates in an exhibition of student artwork and writing at Harvard’s Gutman Library.