Auto Impressions : The Musical Expression of a Self-Portrait

The images on exhibit at the 2014 school-wide art show, Impressions, were the culmination of an exploration that began with the school year and continued throughout the seasons by virtue of the students’ persistent curiosity.

Last september, the seven skies, a conversation held between two students, turned the gaze of the whole class upward to consider the composition of the day and nighttime sky.

Their questions led them past our atmosphere, beyond the orbit of the earth to knowledge of the farthest reaches of space. The students of the school of wonders centered their study by focusing our solar system.

For the fall festival last october, each student chose a planetary body to embody, selecting color and texture and music to represent the composition of that planet, whether terrestrial or gas. (It is worth noting that one bold little boy chose to represent the entire solar system.)

fall festival_ plutofall festival - jupiter

fall festival _ the school of wonders

fall festival _ the moonfall festival _ a solar flarefall festival _ saturn

As the temperature dropped and the green outside faded into monochrome, the students study shifted from space to their local environment, and their conversations entertained the changes they noticed occurring in nature. they started to discuss the pattern of the seasons. Because it was winter, and too cold for outside play, the students took to playing indoors, finding new uses for light in transmitting ideas.

They revisited the music they’d chosen to represent the characteristics of the planets for the fall festival, and illustrated the connections forged in their imaginations as movements made with only shadows.

communicating with shadow 2communicating with shadow 1


They used this new language to illustrate their understanding of the aspects of each season at the school’s winter festival. Attributing representative colors, a musical track, and motion to each season (such as the falling of leaves in autumn or games of tag in the summer), the students portrayed each season in shadow through the use of a shadow box.

This semester, the focus of this year-long study shifted from the natural world inward.

Using their adeptness at illustrating major concepts through the simplicity of color, light and sound, the students of the school of wonders took on the challenge of communicating their identity.

Each child contemplated the question of what shapes his or her identity, and postulated an answer that lies at the intersection of aptitudes, dispositions, memories and family.  At their age, it is the intersection of those elements that grant the children orientation to determine who they are, and articulate that impression as a self-portrait.

Working alongside a classically trained musician Rene Lopez, each student orchestrated a track, selecting sounds and their arrangement from a variety of instruments to communicate a moment or memory they felt represented them most wholly. Working with photographer David Wilhelm, they paired color with their idiosyncratic kinesthetic response to their own song to capture the impression of movement as a light painting, made possible through the use of LED lights and long-exposure photography.

Evelynn - CD

The students self-portraits are now available for sale, along with a CD by the same name as their self-portrait project. Their musical tracks were compiled into a CD, which contains a bonus track entitled Family Portrait. The final track is a mash-up of all of the children’s musical self-portraits. The DJ who produced it, Hiram David, will be our resident composer this summer, helping lead the school’s summer program, a season-long study of the relationship between mathematics and music. He will also be guiding our students to compose their own electronic tracks, which will be complemented by an analogous art project directed by the school’s atelieristas.  


All sales benefit the school of wonders atelier, through which the students continually work to elevate the expression of their knowledge and curiosity. We appreciate your continued support of our initiatives throughout the school year. It is through your exceptional dedication to your child’s education that our program, which is constructed to provide each one of them with the highest level of quality, is made possible.

school of wonders 2

This entry was posted in Elementary and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *