self-portrait analysis

During the Mirrors arc, the Hawks worked on essays describing and analyzing the self portraits done by several different artists: Frida Kahlo, Vincent van Gogh, Romaine Brooks, Gwen John, and Norman Rockwell. They have all finished their hard work on these essays – and they’re amazing! I wanted to share a few excerpts from their essays along with the portraits they chose to write about.

In Gwen John’s Self Portrait she paints herself as a woman of society. She is wearing red a checkered shirt and she has a black shawl on. Her facial expression seems stern. Gwen John might be wearing fancy clothes but she is not happy.
– Aurora

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Norman Rockwell uses posters to express how he changes as artist. First he is laying down then he is arched and in the middle he is sitting straight because that was when he had the most work. Norman Rockwell painted so many paintings and this painting is the diagram of his life.
– Quinn

His drawing doesn’t have as much detail because he didn’t add his glasses or a body. The image shows the way he truly is and the his drawing is a interpretation of himself and his passion.
Norman Rockwell in triple-self portrait depicts his passion for painting by capturing his process. He told stories with his painting showing regular day life, but in triple self-portrait he shows what it is to by an artist.
– Bruno

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In all of Frida’s portraits her face is very serious but she uses vibrant colors. She uses a lot of red and orange because they are love colors. There is a lot of white because it’s a peaceful color and it brings attention to the note she made. All the color bring out the joy that used to fill her and takes away some of the depression inside of her
– Lucy

frida kahlo self portrait

In Romaine Brooks’s time women wore frilly dresses and skirts when men were black suits. Women got judged if they wore men’s clothes. Romaine Brooks was expressing herself through her clothing.
Brooks is hiding herself by using very dark colors and hiding her eyes in a mysterious way. The black of her suit brings out the pale skin but the hat is shading her eyes in a way that says she doesn’t want to come out of the hiding spot that she found.
– Clementine

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Vincent Van Gogh might not have been the best person but he was a great painter. He was really angry but he did a new type of painting and thats a big part about why I like him. What I like about him is that he had a unique way of painting and uses color. In his last self portrait he uses line and color to express his feelings.
– Ben

Van Gogh Self-Portrait

Gwen Johns facial expretion and the way she looks at you makes you think she’s brave to look at you, but also small, little and sad. In the time when Gwen John was painting women rarely looked at you in portraits. It was almost a chalinge to look at you but in all her paintings Gwen John always looks at you. When Gwen John looks at me it makes me feel sad for her.
– Natasha

gwen john self-portrait

Frida Kahlo used color to symbolize sadness from heart break. In the two Fridas Diego did not love the un colorful lonely Frida on the left whose heart is not whole, he loved the happy, colorful Frida whose heart is whole. She shows that with color. The fact that there are two Fridas shows how you can feel more than two feelings at the same time.
– Lola

The-Two-Fridas

megaband departs!

The Megaband, along with Christie, Phillip, and Jaqi, are gone for a whole week at the Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert. So exciting! The collaborators have planned an incredible line-up of experiences, from excursions with the National Park Association and star gazing with astronomers, to time working on the Mirrors arc projects and visiting the Integatron to hear its unique sounds. There have been mirrors art installations popping up all over the desert and they will be visiting them to see their unique take on the mysterious and beautiful landscape that is Joshua Tree. Though it is a no-tech trip, we got this glimpse of them yesterday via Ellen’s phone:

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We can’t wait to hear updates and stories of their adventures, and I hope to post as much as I can! Though these San Francisco natives assured me that they would melt in the heat, I can’t imagine that they’re having anything but an incredible time. We wish we were all there!

high school projects

Although I don’t have pictures of them, I wanted to give an update on the work that the six Brightworks high school students have been doing this arc. Last week, they went with Ellen to see the documentary Finding Vivian Maier, about the recent discovery of a prolific photographer who took thousands of photographs throughout the 1940s to 60s while working as a nanny. In writing and philosophy classes they have been exploring what it means to have a self and the ways in which people express that self, the role of the artist in art, and the art of self portraiture, so exploring Maier’s mysterious past and ephemera made the perfect connection.

They have all chosen various arts-related projects for this Expression phase.

Grace is making a video montage in the spirit of Christian Marclay’s 24-hour movie The Clock, but her version will be a compilation of clips from movies of characters looking in mirrors.

Tytus has been planning an epic origin of a superhero comic, with a fight scene interlaced with exposition.

Isaac is composing a new album for the Mirrors arc and just learned how to play a saw, which sounds like a scratchy recording on a record player.

Ben is making a detailed spray painted self portrait, made of the puzzle pieces of his front and back.

Max is planning a new short film based on the psychological impacts of sitting in front of a mirror – this time in the form of a character who has to sit in a blank room for months with only a mirror for company.

Madison has been working on portraying her face in different styles and with several media in preparation for a series of self-portraits based on the work of Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, and Andy Warhol.

It’s been great to see these older kids take the reins on their projects and watch them make progress independently, with little guidance and directions from their collaborators! We’re excited to see where their ideas take them and what they create by the end of the Expression phase of Mirrors.

solar concentrators

The Hawks have started working on their group Expression project for Mirrors: making solar marshmallow roasters. Inspired by their work from before spring break, each Hawk is taking a different approach to the solar concentrator challenge. Mackenzie reports that she and the Hawks are determined not to make the Expression project a competition between each student, but rather an opportunity to share ideas openly, credit each other’s work, and build on each other’s successes and failures. Already they have started forming partnerships and alliances between themselves as their ideas and strategies begin to line up!

Aurora and Natasha were inspired by the Archimedes Death Ray episode of Mythbusters and spun Plaster of Paris to make a parabolic shape for their solar concentrator.

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They learned that a parabola is a slice of a cone that goes on into infinity, which makes it good for gathering light! After learning that very little sticks to Plaster of Paris, they settled on covering their parabola with reflective tape and created a clear focal point.

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Now they have to figure out if their parabola is big enough to generate enough heat to roast a marshmallow.

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Bruno also made a parabolic Plaster of Paris mold, but covered his with mirror tiles instead of reflective tape.

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He was inspired by the disco ball hanging above the cork floor and resolved to make an inside-out disco ball for his solar concentrator.

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Mackenzie writes, “If you look into Bruno’s parabola and align your eye with the focal point, you will see a dozen of your own eyes looking back. This is how you know that all the mirrors are correctly placed to reflect light to the focal point.”

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Quinn experimented with several different conical reflective surfaces as well as the ideas of several of the other Hawks.

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He found an old satellite dish at home and covered it in reflective tape, then added mirror tiles to give it a boost in reflecting light and creating heat.

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Ben made several small iterations where he experimented with creating stronger and stronger focal points. He tried a light fixture lined with foil and a piece of U-shaped bucket lined with reflective tape. But none of the of the focal points were strong enough.

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Ultimately, he decided on a hanging piece of reflective material in a frame to create a large hanging parabola.

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Lola and Lucy would like to bake a pie in their solar concentrator. They found a Styrofoam container in storage and painted the outside black so that it will absorb more heat.

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They lined the box with foil and put a plexiglass cover on the open end. When they tested it the first time, it already reached 250 degrees!

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On Friday they took their first iterations outside to test them and found the hot spots for each. They will continue with next iterations this week!

strides

The Hawks have made incredible strides and progress on their projects! Here’s what’s been happening:

Clementine and Lola began project phase with the goal of creating a one-minute ball run on an incline plane. They had been frustrated with the difficulty of this task until Sean suggested a more interesting and challenging provocation of creating a ball run that focuses less on time period and more on precision and regularity. They worked together on assembly and learned to set up jigs to be able to mass-produce components of their ball run with the drill press.

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The girls have learned new strategies for working through conflicts that arise and have often been able to take initiative on next steps without any prompting! Clementine has been making great strides this week despite Lola being out sick.

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Bruno’s project has also evolved from a garden-style sundial with a flat face and a movable gnomon after he discovered that the spacing of numbers on the garden sundial need to be different at each latitude. He devised a plan to create a portable equatorial sundial on hinges to allow the gnomon to change angles depending on his location.

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Mackenzie says, “He has found the perfect hinges so that the face can lay flat when closed, in case he ever finds himself using his sundial at the north pole. He has also figured out a clever way to arrange the wood so it can’t open any further than 90 degrees, perfect for a trip to the equator. He is going to embed a compass and levels into the sundial for maximum accuracy.”

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Ben and Quinn, as of this afternoon, have successfully completed their working clock! It is accurate to 5 seconds, which is an incredible accomplishment. They realized the fussiness of a precise clock during this project phase, and this final iteration is the last in about six different versions of their clock.

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During this process they have learned the merits of hard, focused work and cooperation, and made good decisions about finding a quieter work space, like in the Blue Room, so that they could keep on task.

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Natasha has been busy consulting experts for her research project, including a research manager for Nashville tourism and circadian rhythm scientist Carrie Partch. She worked on four versions of her sleeping and eating survey and came up with ways to entice students into filling them out.

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Natasha started organizing her data into graphs last week, starting by looking at her hypothesis and choosing two pieces of data to compare in a scatter plot. Mackenzie reported that she was thrilled to discover that her scatter plot had proved true that late bed times lead to less sleep. “What struck me wasn’t her findings,” Mackenzie writes, “but the excitement she had at having found a discernible pattern in the mass of data she had gathered.”

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cookie test

Josh’s project has been a complex study of one of his favorite pastimes: baking. For the last four weeks, he has been in the kitchen every day with chocolate chip cookie dough, a heating oven, a pair of oven mitts, and a tally chart, testing the same cookie dough recipe at different temperatures in the oven, on regular and convection bake, in the microwave, and in the toaster oven. His process is pretty basic, but filled with the nuances of a researcher: using consistent testers and a bracket scoresheet, he asks, “Which cookie is better?”

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The competition has been intense and the smell of baking cookies even more so.

Yesterday was the last day of this competition. With a small group of cookie testers, he presented two different cookies that had stood the test of many tastes: one baked in a regular oven at 360 degrees for 15 minutes, and one baked in a convection oven at 360 degrees for 15 minutes.

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We had an in-depth conversation about the qualities of both cookies – their texture, color, taste. It was astonishing how different they were, even baked at the same temperature!

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The testers chose between A (the convection-baked) and B (the regular baked). Support for cookie A was overwhelmingly 5 to 1. Josh was thrilled by the feedback he got on his cookies and couldn’t wait to add his discoveries to the research paper he’s working on.

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an expression week

This week has been crazy busy with projects and progress happening all over the school. We’re juggling tasks and doing five things at once as the kids ramp up on their project work. Here’s a glimpse at the week, ending with today’s Disco/Future dress-up day, explorations into programming, and a dance party that kept us all light-footed all morning.

The Hawks continue to knock it out of the park with their attention to detail:

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The Elephants have been loving Book Club, which they do in the down time between project work.

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The Hummingbirds went to Ocean Beach for a day of exploration on the only rainy day of the week.

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Max and his assistants filmed for his Clocks film project, doing incredibly diligent dedicated work, including this shot with multiple extras.

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And today’s Community Friday dance party, exploring relativity with computer cameras, and an amazing community lunch.

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