Ross School - Senior Project 2008-09

Student: Skyla Winters

Mentor: Jennifer Cross

Title: Interlacing Individuals: Family Portraits

Description: My senior project is about the identity of my family, as a group and as individuals. It focuses on how each personŐs identity changes over time through the interaction between the various members of my family. Five large painting combine encaustic crayons, oil paint, oil pastel and charcoal. In addition, a number of small works are included in various mediums. Some of the themes in my paintings include: my sisterŐs autism, my biracial family and various personal struggles. For example, the loss of my brotherŐs baby teeth represents his physical and emotional growing pains. And, the painting of my mother represents her strength and endurance. These individual portraits come together to represent the group dynamic of my family.


When I first stated to think about what I wanted to do for my senior project in junior year, I wanted was drawn to the idea of identity, how complex an identity and how many things can make of the identity of just one person. So I decided on doing a project about my identity, I would create a large series of artworks and the series, as a whole would represent my identity. When I came back to school in September, I was not as exited about this idea as I had been. I stared to feel that this idea was somewhat trite and broad. So I decided to change my project to the identity of a family.  This I felt would have a more universal appeal and more people would be able ton relate to my artwork.

I decided that I would create one large painting each representing one person in my immediate family.  I consider the paintings to be portraits but not in the traditional sense, they instead represent how I feel about each person in my family.

For inspiration for my artwork, I looked a book that Ms. Cross showed me called Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa. This book has incredible photographs of native Africans, their faces adorned with tribal decorations. I took inspiration form their use of color, shapes and light. I also looked at Basquiat, he has been one of my favorite artists for a long time now and I cannot get over the amount of raw energy in his work. I also love the way he uses color. I also drew inspiration from what I did for my Modernity Project in 11th grade, I studied African ArtŐs impact on Modern Art.

When I did my paintings, I kind of focused on the idea of posters on a city wall, that really layered and weathered look. I also kept in mind the idea of 2D sculpture when painting. The materials I used include: encaustic crayon, encaustic, oil paint, oil pastels and charcoal. These are really thick and messy materials so the idea of the 2D sculpture came into play because a lot of the time I felt like I was sculpting with them.

Another part of my senior project was writing my artist statement. This is something that I had never done before and at first I found it somewhat difficult to really express my ideas coherently. It took me a couple of tries but I was eventually able to get it done.

Another new thing I learned how to do through my senior project was hanging my installation. I worked with a man from Parish who helped me figure out what would be the best way to hang my works.

Some of the challenges I faced were: writing my artist statement, figuring out how to represent each member of my family keeping up with senior project deadlines, and coming up with a title for my work. 

Two of the main things that I have come away with from my senior project is figured out what I like about someoneŐs work in order to take inspiration from them instead of copying. I also learned how to take myself seriously as an artist by completing a coherent series.

Works Cited or Works Consulted

Silvester, Hans. Natual Fashion: Tribal Decoration in Africa. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2007.

Community Member (Details)

Outside consultant: David Slater

Occupation: Local Artist(Painter, Collage)