Artistic Explorations of Identity

Context

Students were asked to select or create a one-act play that examined the theme of identity. This student decided to write a play about how people struggle to reconcile how they view themselves with how others view them.

After writing the play, this student was inspired to continue his exploration of identity. Over the next couple of years, he created additional plays, artwork, and costumes. His body of work explored his own identity, how we project or mask our identities, the role of art in developing and expressing one’s identity, and artists’ identity in relation to their art.

After graduation, he has continued the examination of these themes in his creative work and is currently working to produce one of his plays.

Illustration

Teacher Reflection

During a class assignment, this student developed a deep interest in the theme identity and decided to build a collection of creative work. His dedication to this work included a continual revision process focused on improvement. He continuously looked for ways to expand his thinking, to challenge his own assumptions, and to develop projects that go above and beyond. He created work in multiple disciplines that impacted himself as well as the school and local communities. He took pride in his work and continues to develop this work after graduation.

Student Work Samples

The following drawings reflect how hockey goalies play with their identities and emotions essentially hidden behind their masks, unlike their teammates who wear facemasks that allow their faces, and their emotions, to be seen. In the drawings, the student represents aspects of his own identity that are often hidden by the various masks he wears.

Picture of masks

The student created the costume below to represent how people use costumes to convey identity.

The student completed portraits of artists he artistically identified with including Robert Downey Jr as Ironman; The Weeknd; and Lin Manuel Miranda. The artists were selected due to their ability to create and convey emotions through their creative work.

 

Student Reflection

I have found art a way to put myself into all of my work, exploring themes I found interesting, using different mediums to express myself and sharing the knowledge I have accrued as part of my journey with my peers and audience. I have often turned what would have been regular projects into thought provoking assignments intended to raise interesting questions. For example, I compared historical figures to characters from popular fiction in Social Studies essays and political cartoons (e.g., an essay “Louis Riel is Batman”), used different mediums to turn scientific diagrams into edible 3D models (e.g., a plant cell made of Jell-O), and parodied popular songs to bring a new life to dead presentations (e.g., Light and Lens - Thrift Shop parody). I think the challenge of trying to present information in a creative way has not only bettered my own understanding of the material but helped my peers to understand it better as well.

In Drama class, we were given the opportunity to perform one-act plays as part of a competition. I wrote, directed, choreographed, made music for, and acted in a 40-minute original rap musical, Painter and the Painted (PDF). In the play, an artist “who never had a chance to truly shine, now gets his chance when one of his works of art, one he doesn't like, makes him famous.” He and his creation debate the question of who made who. It explores the questions, Is the artist’s creation a true reflection of himself? and “What is the relationship between an artist and his art?

I had to learn and utilize new art forms, memorize lyrics and dance routines, build large-scale props, and perform, all within the very limiting time constraints of a month. I achieved this by doing countless hours of research and rehearsal, and sometimes, creative corner-cutting. Where I could not bring my vision to life, I would improvise, adapt, and improve within the new found art forms I was learning.  

In the first performance I had to improvise song lyrics and choreography on stage due to unforeseen challenges but the audience applauded. Audience members seemed interested in the intense debate between the creator and the created in the play. I developed even more dedication to my craft following this success.

I later wrote a larger scale original two-act play titled Masterpiece (PDF), and worked with a peer to produce it. I found that directing and organizing a production with a larger cast provided scheduling, efficiency, and social conflicts. I had to creatively arrange scenes and adapt the play to meet the needs of the cast and crew, as well as work to make production run as smoothly as possible. We successfully did a string of performances that raised money for the school’s drama program.

Art is integral to finding oneself. My goal is to showcase that to my audience.

Profile Analysis

Creative Thinking

PROFILE SIX
I can develop a body of creative work over time in an area of interest or passion.

I can get ideas that are ground-breaking or disruptive, and can develop them to form a body of work over time that has an impact in my community or beyond. I challenge assumptions as a matter of course, and have deliberate strategies (e.g., free writing or sketching, meditation, thinking in metaphors and analogies) for getting new ideas intuitively. I have a strong commitment to a personal aesthetic and values, and the inner motivation to persevere over years if necessary to develop my ideas.

Creative Thinking

PROFILE FIVE
I can evaluate and use well-chosen evidence to develop interpretations; identify alternatives, perspectives, and implications; and make judgments. I can examine and adjust my thinking.

I can ask questions and offer judgments, conclusions, and interpretations supported by evidence I or others have gathered. I am flexible and open-minded; I can explain more than one perspective and consider implications. I can gather, select, evaluate, and synthesize information. I consider alternative approaches and make strategic choices. I take risks and recognize that I may not be immediately successful. I examine my thinking, seek feedback, reassess my work, and adjust.  I represent my learning and my goals and connect these to my previous experiences. I accept constructive feedback and use it to move forward.

Communicating

PROFILE SIX
I communicate, creating an intentional impact, in well-constructed forms that are effective in terms of my audience and purpose.

I contribute purposefully to discussions and conversations. I synthesize, deepen and transform my own and others’ thinking. I can weave multiple messages into my communications; I understand that my audience will use their own knowledge and experiences in making meaning. I show understanding and control of the forms and technologies I use; I can assess audience response and draw on a repertoire of strategies to increase my intended impact. I can acquire, critically analyse, and integrate well-chosen information from a range of sources.

Positive Personal and Cultural Identity

PROFILE SIX
I can identify how my life experiences have contributed to who I am; I recognize the continuous and evolving nature of my identity.

I can identify ways in which my strengths can help me meet challenges, and how my challenges can be opportunities for growth. I understand that I will continue to develop new skills, abilities, and strengths. I can describe how aspects of my life experiences, family history, background, and where I live (or have lived) have influenced my values and choices. I understand that my learning is continuous, my concept of self and identity will continue to evolve, and my life experiences may lead me to identify with new communities of people and/or place.