Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Collage Self-Portrait: What is Beauty?

In the Advanced Listening & Speaking class of the Loyola Intensive English Program, students discuss a different social issue or concept each week and conduct projects to creatively express ideas about these issues. Last week, we explored the concept of “beauty.” We discussed the different cultural expressions of beauty and the influence of the media on concepts of beauty. We looked at fashion and entertainment magazines to identify ways advertisers use “beauty” to compel consumers to buy their products. Then we “dissected” the media’s definition of beauty and discussed the truly “beautiful” qualities we see in the people around us.

After a brief lesson on collage art, students explored the “beauty” they value in themselves by creating collage self-portraits from images they found in magazines.

Our LIEP Academic Director, Ms. Jess Haley, explains the project to the class.

LIEP students work on their collages: In the foreground Sister Pauline Phan of Vietnam (left) and Sister Theresa Le of Vietnam (right), and in the background Ms. Ana Pereira of Brazil (left) and Mr. Tom Almeida of Brazil (right).

Mr. Murtadha Almohammed of Saudi Arabia (left) and Ms. Ingrid Rodriguez-Fierro of Guatemala (right) work on their collages.

Ms. Ingrid Rodriguez-Fierro of Guatemala proclaimed, “At 45, I’m a very unique person with many beautiful parts!” Her collage is very busy because her life is very full – of family, charity work, food, flowers, and nature. She even represented time in her collage because, she said, even though she and time are not friends, it is an important part of her life.

Collage created by Ms. Ingrid Rodriguez-Fierro of Guatemala

Mr. Murtadha Almohammed of Saudi Arabia focused on family in the creation of his self-portrait. At the top of his image is the word mom. “She created me. She is me and all happiness I express is because of her.” Murtadha discussed his love of children, especially, of course, his daughter. “When you see your family, you see yourself.”

Collage created by Mr. Murtadha Almohammed of Saudi Arabia

Sister Theresa Le of Vietnam organized her collage components to resemble a face. The face is made of words and the image of a smile. “Even without a perfect face, with a smile, you will always be beautiful,” she said. Beauty, according to Sister Theresa, is trying to be the best self she can be right now.

Collage created by Sister Theresa Le of Vietnam 

Mr. Tom Almedia of Brazil made a very clever collage. "The main shape is my beard. I am known for it, but it also makes me think of something where secrets can be hidden and then brought out into the light." Tom explained that there is a lot going on in the beard--experiences, choices, travels, family--you can't identify just one thing because that's how identity is. Tom loves cocktails and food as well, but the other important component of his collage is the curved shape of words on the side--like an ear. "I'm becoming a better listener. It's a happy portrait because that's what I have in my life."

Collage created by Mr. Tom Almeida of Brazil

Sister Pauline Phan of Vietnam wanted to include two major aspects of her personality in her portrait – her life in Vietnam and her life in the United States. That’s why she created a face with two parts. She also surrounded herself with people. “My job and my mission are to go beyond myself. I like all the people.” She didn’t put a lot of elements in her image because, she said, we should try to express ourselves simply.

Collage created by Sister Pauline Phan of Vietnam

Mr. Marco Frick of Switzerland chose only a few very important elements of his identity to share on his collage. He chose foods that represent his dedication to health and family. The globe represents his passion for traveling as well as his admiration for his parents, who are both career travelers. The jacket represents his future in service and the special goals and commitment he has to that.

Collage created by Mr. Marco Frick of Switzerland

Ms. Ana Pereira of Brazil was very careful to create a human shape for her collage – she did this intentionally because she said, in Brazil there is too much emphasis on physical beauty. So, she added the words, “You are more than your shape,” and included the things that she feels make her beautiful – food, nature, and a baby to represent her daughter, who is “the biggest love in life.” At the base of the image, she added images of travel and study because “that gives you a cultural perspective and with that you can go anywhere in the world.”

Collage created by Ms. Ana Pereira of Brazil

A huge thank-you to our LIEP Advanced Listening & Speaking class for sharing their collage self-portraits and concepts of beauty with us!

The LIEP Advanced Listening & Speaking class with their collages

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