West Brookfield student self-portraits on exhibit

Elementary school students share views of self

By Frances Wychorski
Citizen Chronicle Writer

WEST BROOKFIELD — Who am I? At some time in life, this thought may come into the consciousness.

Second through sixth grade students at West Brookfield Elementary School recently had a unique opportunity to look inside themselves and answer that question.

Rebecca Fay, proprietor of the Worcester Art & Frame Gallery in downtown West Brookfield, has dedicated space for the month of March to a unique, local exhibition of 205 self-portraits. Each image is a window into the child’s perception of who they are and what matters in their world.

An old grandfather clock gently chimed in the background as the public came into the shop when the exhibit opened to the public on Saturday, March 3. Children and their parents streamed inside to find their individual works of art amongst the large display. The exhibit takes up two full walls at the front of the gallery. Excited voices rang out, “That’s me! That’s me!” as children found their self-portraits and shared them with family.

The elementary students drew their self-portraits in Kelly Mundell’s art class this past fall. Ms. Fay said for those children she knew, it was remarkable how some part of their personality came through in the drawing.

“Some are funny, some are introspective, and it’s just amazing,” Ms. Fay said. “I could stand here and stare at them all day.”

Some children drew a self-portrait that reflects on their own image visually or mentally. One patron said, “It’s what kids perceive themselves to be. It is amazing how they see each other. How they perceive themselves. How they look.”

The children took great care in presenting their face and, in particular, expression in the eyes. Hairstyles, clothing and personal effects were shared in detail.  Some students drew objects around them that had meaning in their lives — animals, sports and music featured in the background. Others gave insight into the importance of social connections with words floating around their image. Some images share emotions of the moment including what look like storms clouds around the mind. A few images share a wink back at the audience.

A plaque on the exhibit wall reads: “These portraits are worthy of a show at the national gallery. Each image represents a child in our community. They represent individuals, but also our strength as one, standing together. When you look at them, you’ll see not only a resemblance to a face you might know, but also, our future, and the hopes and dreams of these remarkable young souls.”

In addition to this month’s special self-portrait exhibit, the gallery also contains works from artists both local and throughout New England. Displays of pottery, woodcraft, prints, oil paintings and glass works greet the visitor around every corner. The shop is small, but the exhibits well laid out. There is space to move around easily and find something to appreciate.

The Worcester Art & Frame Gallery is located at 10 East Main Street, across the street from Ye Olde Tavern. The shop offers art by local artists and custom frame services. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit their website at www.worcart.com.

A young girl looks over some of the 205 self-portraits produced by West Brookfield Elementary School students.

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