PS 220 Bright Spot


At the CWP Residency at PS 220 in Queens, Teaching Artists Javan Howard and Alex Velozo are working with the students to create self-portraits based on “mark” and “value”. Both of these terms, mark and value, have been examined in the classroom as concrete art vocabulary and abstract terms that talk about their impression and effect on the world.

The students start each session with stretches that end in expanding their bodies as wide as they can across the classroom. Jay and Alex ask their students:

“How big are we? Can we stretch across the universe? Where have we left our fingerprints this week, month, year? Can we imagine that we stretch across each place we have ever touched?”

Jay and Alex have centered the self-portraits around the concept of the student’s individual mark on the world, both in the physical sense and in the sense of their own impact on the world they live in. To represent the physical aspect, these self-portraits are made by using reusable paint pads and the student’s fingerprints. The warm-up gradient exercise and the self-portrait help the students to explore value and paint as material, while consistently returning to their own individual mark: the fingerprint.  

This is Evelyn’s start to her self-portrait project. Evelyn accomplishes dark and middle values along with descriptive line work that will be built upon in future lessons and revisions. The Teaching Artists and students are all very excited for the finished self-portraits, which will ultimately integrate poetry text and line with the image.