Calgary

These Grade 1 and 2 students were handed an art project that could make master painters gulp

Young students at a northeast Calgary school were nervous when their teacher handed them a challenging assignment — but thrilled to see their "unique" faces on display in the community.

Kids in Grades 1 and 2 were tasked to paint themselves, and other special things in their community

Isha Gondara poses with her self-portrait. (Jenny Howe/CBC)

Grade 1 and 2 students at Colonel J. Fred Scott Elementary School were assigned an art project even master painters struggle with: creating self-portraits.

It was all part of a project initiated by artists and teacher Natalie Lauchlan, or "Miss Natalie" as her students call her, with the aim to celebrate the community of Whitehorn, in Calgary's northeast.

The students boldly created images of themselves, which were then put onto three utility boxes in early February, on 52nd Street and Temple Drive in the northeast, and a couple garbage cans near to the school.

"Their enthusiasm and absolute elation of seeing it for the first time was just priceless," said Lauchlan, to The Homestretch.

The project is titled Portraits of Whitehorn and showcases not only self-portraits by students but also painted landmarks of the community that are meaningful to them, like trees and houses. 

Meet the artists

Ethan Hatch and his self-portrait. (Jenny Howe/CBC)

"I think it's OK but my lips kind of got like a circle," says six-year-old Isha Gondara of her portrait. 

"I think it's very unique because I'm the only one who has my eyebrows connected together."

The point of the project? "To show people how unique everybody is, I think that everybody is unique on this utility box and it's OK if you're not the same because you can be the same and you can be unique," she says.

When queried if she thinks she'll keep doing art, Gondara said, "Maybe, because I'm a very good artist."

Alvah Shrestha and her self-portrait. (Jenny Howe/CBC)

Before the big reveal of his portrait, seven-year-old Ethan Hatch was feeling "scared just on how it looked, at the one eye part." 

But after getting to see his painting on display, Hatch said, "It felt a lot better and cooler. I was really proud and I thought it was fun working on it."

Ekram Seilia and her self-portrait. (Jenny Howe/CBC)

Seven-year-old Alvah Shrestha said, "It was a little bit easy" to do the art because she used mirrors while creating but it was "a little bit hard to get the skin colour and get the perfect type of it."

"We did this utility box to show the public how we are and how we're different," said Shrestha.

"I suggest everybody else has a different hair colour, different skin colour. They don't match a lot."

Upon reflection of the creation process of her masterpiece, six-year-old Ekram Seilia said, "I feel I am confident I can do it again because I like to draw."

Seilia said she likes knowing people can see her art. 

"I feel good because people can see that I am unique and others … it makes me feel that I can be myself."

With files from Jenny Howe and The Homestretch

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