Courtesy of Noël Falco Dolan, Villanova Center for Liberal Education
The Art & Culture Learning Community classes recently displayed their self-portrait projects at the Student Arts Festival on Saturday, April 9, in Garey Hall. This was the first student arts festival hosted by the Scriblerus Collective, an arts cooperative intended to foster an arts identity at Villanova by encouraging students to share their creative ideas and projects with their peers, and the festival encompassed art, music, poetry, and drama from participants at schools on the Main Line.
Together with key members of the Collective, most notably graduate English student Ben Raymond, Professor Noël Dolan’s two ACS sections worked on a self-portrait project in the Modern section of the ACS class.
In order to discuss individuality, creativity, and self-expression, the students linked key readings from Emerson (“Self-Reliance”) and Whitman (“Song of Myself”) with a review of an exhibit of self-portraits at the National Portrait Gallery and self portraits selected from ArtSTOR.
Then, students were asked to create their own self-portraits, in any medium, suitable for display at the Arts Festival, thus creating an awareness of how art not only must satisfy the artist's intentions, but also must communicate an idea to an outside viewer.
Students created a range of self-portraits, from traditional, painted representations of face to collage of face or silhouette to symbolic representations of self. Several students worked with photography, even marrying music (layered lyrics and sheet music) with self-expression.
One student represented herself through a layering of black and white photos of the Brooklyn Bridge; another arranged photos of friends and family holding up words describing her around a foil mirror containing her own view of herself.
Yet another used his laptop, utilizing a computer drawing program, to show himself trapped in technology. Several worked with sculpture, creating a garden maze with self at center; a journey through life as a race, with images of places as the path, real grass, and real sneakers; an open book of blank pages; and a model of the solar system (self as Pluto).
Accompanying the self-portraits were museum labels made up by the students describing their work briefly, while a longer reflection paper on the process of creating the work was submitted for class.
Though at first uncertain, students were pleased with both the process of creating and with their finished work.