This fall, middle division art teacher, Lisa Condino, introduced students in grades 6-8 to textile artist Victoria Villasana with the intention of providing them access to a living artist who incorporates both personal heritage and activism into their artwork.

“I wanted to begin the year with a self-portrait project as a way for me to get to know each of my students as individuals. It’s been a really fun process to witness each student envision the way they wanted to be seen in the photograph and come to their own creative conclusions of how to express themselves using yarn as a design material,” said Condino.

By blending the concept of personal expression through self-portraiture with mixed media elements, Condino provided space for each young artist to learn how to art direct their personal photoshoot and play with the perception of this image using three-dimensional texture and color. Students were captured as they wanted to be seen with black and white photography and later amplified the images by painting with yarn.

Villasana influenced their work in the way she uses color and patterns to bring the humanity of the faces to life—the texture and color pops help viewers connect with an image on a more emotional level. Many students learned how to thread a needle for the very first time to support the production of their final portraits. The project resulted in a diverse range of portraits unique to each artist.

“I hope they feel proud of what they created and how far they came through this project. Every piece is so different from the next and has its own strengths,” Condino shared.

Students celebrated their finished work by sharing personal reflections and identifying what studio habits were used to create the pieces in their artist reception.