Bronx Envision Academy students explore theme of self-portraits to make both visual and poetic art.


Freedom is like two birds flying through the wind.
Freedom sounds like a hundred people cheering.
Freedom feels like you are lying down in the sand looking at the sun.
Happiness looks like me in a party watching football.
Happiness sounds like people at a New Years party.
Happiness feels like your heart beating fast when you see a pretty girl.
     -Poem and Self-Portrait Drawing by Matthew Muniz, 9th Grade


Community-Word Project’s 15-week arts residency was a fun adventure with 9th-graders. Our focus was on using the theme of self-portraits to make both visual and poetic art. We began by creating hand made journals, using paper and fabric to make a collage that represents who we are. We created an original metaphor to use as inspiration for our first self-portrait drawing. We also used Frida Kahlo’s Two Frida’s, and a self-portrait by Pablo Picasso as examples of two different ways to portray oneself. Teaching Artists Mr. Langston and Ms. Katie brought in original self-portraits to serve as additional examples. The students’ drawings were filled with imagery, metaphor and self-expression.

Our first poetry unit focused on exploring where I’m from via Willie Perdomo’s Where I’m From poem. We also looked at Tara Betts’s For those who want a true story to take a closer look at how we can use our personal narratives to explore where we are from. We also looked at a poem by Yusef Komunaka’s and wrote stories about a gift we were given. 

For our final art project we took inspiration from Keith Haring and the drawings in the book Persepolis. Students chose images from their favorite poem and created a carving on a foam plate. We then made prints using these plates, experimenting with color. This was a fun process that created great results. We hope this residency gave the students the chance to self-reflect and create art they feel successful about. We wish you all the best on the rest of your high school career. Take care and keep on being creative.

Langston Kerman and Katie Issel Pitre

After designing and printing an anthology of all of the students’ work, we received this from the proud Classroom Teacher:

Hello, All!

Last night I opened a copy of “I Got Colors” and felt incredibly proud. Through their poetry and artwork, our students were able to express themselves and share parts of themselves that many of them are not often able to reveal. I know that they were very excited to receive their copies, and hopefully feel the same pride in their work.

Thank you, Katie and Langston, for your hard work and your dedication to working with our students and bringing them to this point, where they now hold in their hands a published copy of their work. The anthology is beautiful and I know it is something that they will treasure for years to come.

Thank you also to David and Patti for everything that you’ve done to engage and excite our students over the course of our residency. I look forward to speaking with you further about our experience over the past 15 weeks and the potential for our future collaborations.

Best wishes to all for an excellent summer,

Dan (W)
Grade 9 English/Grades 9 & 10 Theater
Bronx Envision Academy