Creative Chaos: The Lenore Ross Curating Program Explores the Self Portrait


PAAM recently welcomed a group of students from Provincetown Schools to take part in the Lenore Ross Curating Program.

A curated selection of self-portraits from the permanent collection, including those by artists Robert Beauchamp, David Bethuel Jamieson, and Jackson Lambert were used as points of reference and inspiration for the program. Students were encouraged to create a self-portrait in a medium of their choice, and using both collection pieces and their own process, explored the many ways in which the self-portrait illuminates an understanding of self for both the artist and the viewer.

Those students were: Bruna Dias, River Dower, Isaiah Edwards, Van Forant, Xanti Hassan, Tom Holmes, Hashlin Lopez, River Michael Love, Christopher Millan, Zac Perez, Derek Reyes, James Richardson, Lily Smith, Tyler Smith, Margot Stern, and Jack Verde.


“Identities can be explored through representations in art.” This statement of inquiry is the guiding thought that the MYP Visual Art students at the Provincetown IB School responded to while creating the pieces for this exhibition. Their unit, Social Emotional Art, began with an exploration of the photographs of Dorothea Lange and her ability to capture the emotions of her subject. Students took their own photographs, emulating not only the technical skills of her work but also her skill at empathizing with her subjects.

The self-portrait project required the students to turn that “empathetic gaze” back at themselves, to explore who they are and it asked them to make decisions about how and what they would share of themselves with the viewer. Each student artist chose materials and methods of expression that suited them. Some are expressive and mysterious, some humorous or abstract. All a real expression of who they are, identities explored and represented through art. –Michael Gillane, Visual Arts Teacher, Provincetown Schools


The past two years have been a time of challenge, change, and innovation for both our greater global community and our individual selves. As we move through such a time, it feels beneficial and appropriate to grant opportunities to reflect upon and communicate our unspoken internal experiences. An exploration of the self-portrait allows the artist a chance to process and communicate emotions and bring forward an understanding of self to others in particularly individual ways. Creating self-portraits in a group setting enhances the experience by allowing young artists the chance to take risks, engage authentically, and cultivate a balance with themselves and those around them. –Tessa Bry Taylor, Curator of Youth Education, PAAM


Here at PAAM, we believe firmly in the inherent value of art as a catalyst for learning and self-development. The Lenore Ross Curating Program is a multidisciplinary arts integration program that digs directly into that value. Within the Program, learners engage with works of art chosen from PAAM’s Permanent Collection and create original work in and as response. Utilizing PAAM collection artwork as a focal point for broader academic and artistic exploration, the Program allows individuals to generate deep understanding of a topic, creatively engage in their own learning, and demonstrate a comprehension of their learning in artistic form.