What Sound is your Self-portrait?


By Kathleen Klock

On Wednesday, April 3rd, I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting Community-Word Project in the classroom at P.S. 316, Elijah Stroud school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Teaching Artists Lisa Marie Gutting and Katie Isel Pitre led 2nd grade classes in a lesson combining creative writing and visual arts.

The focus of the lesson was Cubist portraiture. The students discussed a self-portrait by Pablo Picasso, sharing their ideas about shapes and colors and their theories about what the painting represents. They were then invited to draw their own Cubist self-portrait, and to write some lines of poetry describing their drawing. 

One of the poetry prompts asked the students to imagine a sound they heard in their self-portrait. One student heard the sound of grilling and another the sound of the ocean. One boy jumped up from his seat and did a dance to express his enthusiasm for the project. When the Teaching Artists asked for volunteers to share their poems, every hand in the classroom went up.

At the end of the class, one student shared that her poem made her think of words on the word train headed towards the word station.

In our fourth year of partnership with P.S. 316, Community-Word Project is providing 15-week residencies to 120 1st and 2nd grade students. We are pleased to have our residencies make a sustained contribution to the school community, and hope to deepen our involvement in the future.