Whole in One

By Sacha Zimmerman

During the 2019/20 academic year, Upper School art teacher Catherine Dunn’s students started a new project: drawing portraits of their heroes. Using Quaker-style consensus voting, the students landed on Upper School Principal Mamadou Guèye and Upper School math teacher Yolanda Rolle. By March 2020, the roughly 20 art students working on the project was nearly done—and then COVID hit. The group finally finished the portrait in 2021, and in December, they hung it in the Kogod Arts Center outside the Robert L. Smith Meeting Room.

For the portrait above, a photograph of Guèye was divided into a grid. “Each student worked from a very small, abstract section of a black-and-white photograph of Mamadou, taken in his office, in front of the textile that says, ’Teacher,’” Dunn says, adding, “He wanted that textile in the frame.” Working with gray paper, charcoal, and white charcoal, the students faithfully recreated their sections of the photograph—each in their own style. “It’s so big that the kids couldn’t see what it would look like as a whole until they started hanging it up on the classroom wall,” Dunn says. “They were surprised with the outcome—as was I!—because it only really comes to life when every piece is in its place. The whole accommodates everyone’s different approach.”

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Sidwell Friends Alumni Magazine is published three times a year for the community. It features School news, stories, profiles, and alumni Class Notes.

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