“Self Portraits: The Color of Love” Peabody Artists at Hill Center


The Young Artists Gallery welcomes a second portrait show, this time mixed-media self-portraits. The current installation is the work of Peabody ES (425 C St. NE) Kindergarteners under the guidance of their art teacher, Katie Cushman. Their work is very different from that of adults or even older children. In Cushman’s words “it is true visionary art – unpolluted by the strains of perfectionism.”

Cushman found self-portraits to be a developmentally appropriate and “natural choice” as Kindergarteners are engaged in “the process of self-discovery and identity… as they relate to each other and the world.”

A reading of “The Colors of Us” by Karen Katz provided a starting point for classroom discussion. In the book, which encourages an appreciation of diversity, skin colors are described using food-words: “butterscotch, chocolate, coffee, toffee.” This can apply equally to hair; Peabody artist, Zadie, describes hers as “kind of caramel colored.”

The students worked with mirrors to closely examine their own features, then committed them to paper using markers, crayons, colored pencils, tempera paint sticks, colorful tissue paper, and metallic foil. William made his heart with shiny gold paper because “gold is beautiful to me–it makes me feel happy like love does.” Simone also used metalic paper because ” I believe that love is red, blue and shiny and I believe every person’s skin is shiny too.”

Compassion, as symbolized by a heart shape, was a key component of both the conversation and the art. Each child made his or her own artistic choice in what materials and colors to put inside their heart, reinforcing the message “love is inside us.”

Hill Center is located at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. The Young Artists Gallery is on the ground floor, east of the main staircase.  The show will hang through the end of April. Ms. Cushman invites everyone to see it and enjoy this expression of appreciation for our differences and for compassion and love – “an extremely relevant and vital topic in our children’s lives.”