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MS Arts

Middle School Artists and Artwork

  |   Aaron School, Elementary School, Lower School, Middle School, Special Programs

As middle school students wrapped up their “Not a Classroom” projects, they traded in the glue guns and cardboard to start working on self-portraits. Blue and Yellow groups learned about the lives, styles, and works of several different contemporary artists. After hearing presentations, playing games, and watching videos about these artists, they were asked to choose one artist or painting to use as inspiration to create their own self portrait.


Blue group learned about the life and work of Kehinde Wiley. Referencing Renaissance era paintings, Wiley creates large-scale portraits that place his subjects in classical poses. After looking at Kehinde’s paintings, students chose a pose they wished to re-create for their own self-portrait. From there, the group created a makeshift photo studio in the Art Room. Mimicking Wiley’s process of photographing his subjects before painting them, Aaron School students experienced firsthand how to make art like a master.

After Ecce Homo, 2012, Kehinde Wiley & Ecce Homo, 1626, Anthony Van Dyck
After Ecce Homo, 2012, Kehinde Wiley & Ecce Homo, 1626, Anthony Van Dyck
Tobias in the Aaron School photo studio

Students were asked to focus on pattern, line, shape, and color while creating their backgrounds. Once the first step was complete, the real magic began! Using graphite transfer paper, artists traced over their self-portraits to create a realistic drawing of themselves.

In the third and final step, artists painted, cut, and glued their completed self-portraits to their pre-designed backgrounds. Their final masterpiece is a realistic portrait combining photography, painting, and design!

MS Arts

Yellow group students learned about the lives, influences, and works of six important contemporary artists: David Hockney, Kerry James Marshall, Jacob Lawrence, Yayoi Kusama, Fridah Kahlo, and Alice Neel. They looked at several paintings from each artist, and through class conversations and presentations, chose one painting to base their project off. We focused on the word “inspiration” and how artists use life experiences to inspire their own works of art.


By focusing on individual artists and their paintings, both groups created final projects that were inspired by, but not copies of, famous works of art. Using their own talents and imagination, Aaron School artists were able to build on their creative strengths while using the tools of the masters! Congratulations Aaron School middle schoolers!

Yayoi Kusama inspired Jayden’s and Phoenix’s face in hole selfies
Jacob Lawrence, “The Library,” inspired Jackson’s colorful selfie
Fridah Kahlo inspired Heather’s very own artwork