Student Self Portrait Artworks created by LaGuardia Community College students in the workshop Seeing Each Other: Identity Self-Portraits

Professor Dahlia Elsayed and Professor Liena Vayzman
April 13 and 20, 2021

Kyana Neil

This is a representation of my activist side and my normal side. By bringing art and social justice together, I decided I wanted to remake a famous painting by Norman Rockwell. My head is served on a silver platter, hard to ignore, but I have very vibrant 60s/70s influenced makeup on. I’m surrounded by people laughing and talking, but all of the white people surrounding me have copied my makeup… and now the laughing seems to be more of a “haha we look just like her.” I tried to connect the “Culture Vulture” experience people of color always go through. Famous celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Gwen Stefani are infamously known as Culture Vultures… they wear people’s culture like it’s a costume. (From Asian, Native American, Black people, and much more!) And me a person of color, surrounded by white onlookers is having the first-hand experience of only being a “thing to eat, or to take from.”

Kyana Neil self portraitDaniel Herrera

I an Industrial Design major at LaGuardia Community College and a future Architecture major at City College of New York. I wanted to show a physical and creative representation of myself. To illustrate this idea, I divided the painting into two pieces. The left side shows my physical self-portrait and the right side represents the creativity coming from my mind. I painted a color explosion full of different paths and figures in contrast to the realistic representation of my face.

Daniel Herrera - self portrait

Giulia Armentano

The work is a reflection on the experience of grief. To create my portrait I went through photographs I recently shot and decided to combine two of them together in Photoshop.  Even though letting myself feel the pain is hurtful, it can also be comforting, an idea rendered by the image of the water carrying me.

I found the workshop interesting in how it showed the different ways in which artists think about themselves and their approaches to describing the aspects that make up their identities. This has given me more confidence in expressing something which, although it has been redefining my entire self, I am not comfortable sharing, even if just through my artwork. Hearing others describe their portraits was rewarding because I learned a lot about the creative process involved in the realization of works that are very diverse, although they were made by people who, at least partly, share the same educational path.

Giulia Armentano - self portrait

Scottie Norton 

I used a 3D rendering app called Blender to create an 8-second looping animation called Late Bloomer (and a still 2D image seen below), a figure representing myself with flowers cascading out of his head, and five hands surrounding the body.

As a non-traditional student, this artwork represents me pursuing my passion of becoming an artist and “blooming” or discovering my power through art after years of working as a retail manager. Each of the hands represents something different. I chose the image of the pencil in white and the black goblet to represent the positive force of creativity and the negative concept of vice. The black hand around my neck symbolizes self-doubt and self-destructive behaviors. Last year I was involved in an attack that broke the right side of my face, and this artwork symbolizes me overcoming this event and emerging with a newfound sense of purpose

Scottie Norton - self portrait

Teshaba Barlow

The work that I made was about working with the materials that I love and reflecting on why I choose to major in Fine Arts at LaGuardia. I painted myself and park-like scenery in the background, with a burst of cherry blossoms on the trees. The workshop helped me identify certain aspects about myself. Some of the words to describe myself in the workshop activity are: an artist, a woman of color, a naturalist, a palette knife, and Guyana, which is the country I come from. I started to sketch in charcoal. After, I painted. Working with thick layers of paint and a palette knife is always fun for me. 

My experience with hearing other people describe their work in the workshop discussion was altogether great. I enjoyed listening to everyone’s backstories, or struggles they faced with the project. I thought some were inspirational. And I found myself relating to them.

Teshaba Barlow - self portrait

Noelia Carrasco

I loved seeing everyone else’s work, which gave me a sense of what other kind of artists there are in the world and OUR SCHOOL!! 

[Self-portrait description: Drawing of the head and torso of a woman with long wavy brown hair, cat-eye makeup, and a nose ring. She is wearing a long-sleeved pink and green striped shirt under a black tank top, and an earring in the shape of a red heart. Two butterflies are flying above her and a halo of flames surrounds the butterflies and woman.]

Noelia Carrasco - self portrait

Kristen Chan

I am an Asian American artist from Hong Kong, currently studying photography at Laguardia Community College. I chose to base my self-portrait on five words that identify who I am, and repeat them over and over until they fill a silhouette of myself. The words “Asian American”, “Dreamer”, and “Immigrant” all refer to my identity as a Chinese immigrant growing up in America, while the words “Gamer” and “Artist” refer to hobbies important to me. The silhouette features a girl wearing floral hairpins. Such hair ornaments are typically matched with traditional Chinese hanfu clothing. The black silhouette was drawn using the software Procreate and text added on in Photoshop.  

Kristen Chan - self portrait

Lucas Neira

Art is about freedom and life. This portrait is about me and my dog. I painted the sky yellow because yellow means joy and happiness. The reason I’m happy is because the dog symbolizes a special key to achieve my smile. I always wanted a dog and now I finally have one. I named him Choco and he is a beautiful brown shih-poo. He is my 21st birthday gift and I am so happy for what I have.

Lucas Neira - self portrait

Liah Paterson

I loved the idea that self-portraiture does not have to be a literal image of one’s face – something that I had not previously thought about before this workshop. I sewed symbols onto an article of clothing. The symbols represent specific family lore and imagery present in my childhood.  It was difficult to challenge myself, to not only pick up embroidery after a five-year hiatus but to identify strategies to allow the imagery to maintain what I often try to capture with paint – an eerie familiarity, a questioning of what tales are behind this image.

[Self-portrait description: photograph of a black dress with embroidered words and symbols with close-up images of a duck, a tree, and house with flames coming out of the window]

Liah Paterson - self portrait

Zonghua Zhang

Hand-drawn with multi-colored pencils, I created a lizard man —  a scene with a joyful atmosphere to show a true me and my love of reptiles.  It was a fantastic experience to join the workshop. It brought me to a wider horizon level to understand what self-portrait is and can be shown from many different perspectives and it also can be expressed in different techniques.  I’m really happy to see other classmates’ artworks, full of unique creative ideas that inspired me. It was a good opportunity to share our ideas and learn some new styles of art from others.

Zonghua Zhang - self portrait

Tanesha Jenkins

The 5 words that came to mind to describe myself were creative, photographer, artist, magical, and extravagant. I like to embrace the concept of black hair with visually beautiful details like flowers, butterflies, plants, colors, etc., and make it over the top to place emphasis on its versatility and beauty. I used glitter and crystals as a nod to the “Black Girl Magic movement” which celebrates the beauty, power, and resilience of Black women. She’s holding a camera because I’m always taking pictures. 

I loved all of the examples and styles of what a self-portrait could be. I even researched some of the artists that I heard of for the first time in the workshop. I wish there was more time to see everyone’s work because it was fascinating seeing how other people portray and think of themselves. The creativity was great and now I actually want to play around with digital art. Great workshop!!!

Tanesha Jenkins - self portraitRongxin Xu

[Self-portrait description: digital painting of a woman wearing a hooded pink coat, holding a book with handwriting open with one hand, which is also carrying a bag of mandarin oranges]

Nour Mohsen    

I am studying Industrial Design at LaGuardia Community College. In my self-portrait, I decided to draw one of the pyramids, of Khafre (خفرع), in the background with the Egyptian flag above it, representing my culture. As all Egyptians, I love football, so I represent it in my self-portrait with a (Soccer) Ball symbol. I played video games from when I was 10 years old. I drew a gaming mouse in the bottom left of the portrait to represent how the gaming world took place in my life. I connected all those symbols with a drawing of myself looking back toward the things that represent myself both past and present. For the border, I used the ancient Egyptian language (Hieroglyphics). I used a pencil and a marker on a drawing pad.

NNour Mohsen - self portrait

JunHui (Erik) Chen

The five words I chose to describe myself in our workshop “Seeing Each Other: Identity Self-Portraits” are freedom, curiosity, loner, nervous and slow-to-warm-up. When I see these words, I think of cats. I consulted cats’ movements — like when they stretch their waist — and combined them with a human, plus some of my characteristics such as short hair and wearing a T-shirt.

JunHui (Erik) Chen - self portrait

Alvaro Chavarriago

My self-portrait is based on my own experiences, struggles, and battles to get ahead in this country as an immigrant. I chose to draw my hand because with it I can create a lot of things and help many people. My hand represents what I am and what I came to do not only in New York but as a Human Services student at LaGuardia Community College: Educate myself to help others.

Alvaro Chavarriago - self portrait

Leuvy Alvarez

I am a future teacher from LaGuardia Community College who loves art. I made a self-portrait using a photoGrid app. The photo I used in this picture was taken by one of my best friends as a model for her page, which is a small business clothing page, where I had to show my confidence. I’m using music notes as my arms. A raining cloud in my head includes a sad emoji, a flower, a sun, and a thankful emoji. The objects in the cloud represent insecurities, sadness, hope, and thankfulness. The rain represents growth: Flowers need rain to grow. Music makes me stand despite the war of emotions.

Leuvy Alvarez - self portait





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About Jessica Murray

Jessica Murray received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY in 2020. She is the Director of Digital Communications for Transformative Learning in the Humanities (TLH), a three-year initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She is also working on a web project with teaching materials about civil rights struggles in New York City, including disability rights history. She advocates for improving public transit accessibility in New York City for people with disabilities and chairs the Advisory Committee for Transit Accessibility for New York City Transit.

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