This project was very personal to each student. In addition to being a portrait of their face, and using words they wrote about their own core values, each project also features the student's own handwriting. The density and disorder of the handwriting varies greatly from project to project, but ultimately all are effective in creating a meaningful and recognizable portrait.
Not every student was completely finished with their projects by the time I started taking photographs in the gallery, but most were. I think only 3-5 were not yet displayed.
I worked with 8th graders for the first time with this art project (many of whom I had worked with as 6th or 7th graders), and it was wonderful to see how they had grown in their art and in their focus. This project involved students identifying an aspect of their own core values, and writing an essay about it. These essays were to follow the "This I Believe" model.
From the This I Believe website: "This I Believe is based on a 1950s radio program of the same name, hosted by acclaimed journalist Edward R. Murrow. Each day, Americans gathered by their radios to hear compelling essays from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman as well as corporate leaders, cab drivers, scientists, and secretaries—anyone able to distill into a few minutes the guiding principles by which they lived. These essayists’ words brought comfort and inspiration to a country worried about the Cold War, McCarthyism, and racial division."
Modern interpretations of this theme can be found on the This I Believe podcast and are occasionally featured on NPR. Many are tear-inducing, heart-warming, and inspiring—definitely worth a listen.
Upon completion, the pencil lines were erased, portraits carefully trimmed, and then framed.