This year, because our Montessori continent study takes us to Africa in this first semester, the children learned about the woven Kente cloth of the Ashanti people of West Africa. Students were then invited to share their own traditions of sacred clothing. Inspired by the geometric designs of the Kente cloth and the colors of their own birthday, picture day, family celebration clothes, the children created beautifully patterned, colorful frames for their self portraits.
Next, we compared and contrasted portraits by a variety of artists including Leger, Kollwitz, Heckel, and Mills. These works were created in a range of styles including realistic, expressionistic, and abstract and each portrait included the sitter's hands. Students then practiced drawing realistically as they created thumbnail sketches of classmates and themselves.
Finally, students were invited to create their beginning-of-the-year self-portraits. The children chose a realistic, expressionistic, or abstract approach and were challenged to include their hands and their special clothes in their drawings.
The works posted below include finished self-portraits and portraits in progress by children in kindergarten-seventh grade.