I AM GRATEFUL – GRACIAS SELF PORTRAITS
By: Amelia Moore // Photography By: Emily Foss, Bev Abma & Kathlyn Chan
The I AM ART projects are intentionally planned to help participants discover more about themselves and explore the world around them while developing creative and mental skills, strengthen their faith and develop personal identity. While each camp offers different workshops, we facilitate one project that all the kids create during the year. Here’s a little highlight of this Self-Portrait project which over 350 youth created in 2019.
One of the main themes of the I AM ART camp is understanding that we are each unique. During this self portrait project, students create an art piece that was inspired by the book cover, Wonder. The main theme of the movie is a middle school boy who looks different from everyone else. People are always aware of his differences. Although Aggie’s differences are obvious, the movie unveils in subtle ways that we are all different. While differences can make us self-conscious, with a new perspective, differences can strengthen us.
Throughout the week at I AM ART camp, students are encouraged to express themselves through art and learn new things about themselves. Part of the creative exploration process is to experience brokenness or pain through the art process; but then to celebrate restoration and our differences. During this self portrait project, the students end their self-portraits with only one eye. While the project is complete, it also symbolizes that we are all in process. God is creating a piece of art work within all of us.
When you look at this project, perhaps you feel uncomfortable that an eye is missing. However, after sitting with the pieces, reading the student responses and then looking at them collectively, you’ll notice a profound shift in how you feel about the project. You’ll notice the subtle beauty of the color; the beautiful shape of the eyes and hair; the sweet words written by kids who have experienced intense trauma. What else are you drawn too?
After creating the self portrait, the students were encouraged to write about themselves around the face, what they are thankful for and what they learned during the week of I AM ART. Many expressed gratitude to the volunteers for the I AM ART week… and we want to extend that gratitude towards our donors as well.
Because of your contribution, youth were able to participate in art projects like this that taught them of their value and helped them think critically.