SPIRAL WORKSHOP 2009 > Wk 6 Self Portraits

The (de)Generate painters viewed portraits from a variety of artists who work in an expressive manner. The students looked at work by Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Alice Neel, Edvard Munch, and Jenny Saville. All of these artists made self-portraits that did not seek to create a glamorous self-image—exploring aspects of self that are normally not thought as elegant, desirable, or even normal. We discussed why artists would want to portray themselves in a non-flattering way. We discussed the truth telling potential of visual distortion. We discussed the enormous social power of individuals testifying to the truths of their experiences of self and others.

Each (de)Generate artist decided what expression he or she wanted to convey in a painted self-portrait. The painters posed for black and white photos to use as references for painting. The (de)Generate painters were encouraged to paint expressively and to emphasize the expressive qualities of the human face as well the expressive potential of distortion of form and color.

As a way to generate ideas about the self, each youth artist completed a worksheet entitled “ I sometimes am...” The list of “Sometimes I am…” statements becomes a poem about idiosyncratic experience.