Engaging Families through Art and Technology Programs: "Illuminating the Self"
This collection details an art and community engagement project that the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access did with educators from the National Portrait Gallery and the Fairfax County Family Literacy Program. It includes assets and resources designed to help teachers, museum educators, and community-based informal learning educators recreate the program as is, or design their own, based on the specific needs of their classroom or learning community.
"Illuminating the Self / Illuminándonos" was a five-day bilingual program in which pairs of immigrant mothers and their middle school-aged children worked together to learn about portraiture from the 2016 exhibition of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition winning portraits. First we talked about portraiture in general, and then focused the discussion on light and shadow. Next, students took photographic portraits of each other and chose one to recreate. We projected the photographs in black and white onto a wall, and had the students trace the outlines of their photographs on their blank drawing paper. They they worked with charcoals to fill in their portraits and refine their drawings. Participants also visited the Outwin exhibition. Finally, their portraits were displayed at the National Portrait Gallery's Hispanic Heritage Month Family Day.
Program surveys indicated improved literacy, technology, and communication skills to share heritage, traditions, and talents; increased sense of empowerment and self-esteem, strengthened parent-child relationships and community bonds, and creation of a core of mentors. One mother reported that before the program she would never have entered an art museum because she wouldn't have known what to do, but that now she would not be able to pass by without stopping in. As well, several family participants have returned to the Smithsonian asking to volunteer at future Smithsonian events.
This program received Federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.
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