Any teacher will tell you that the end of the year is a beastly time. Schedules are switched up, there are tons of special events and happenings: You are exhausted, the students are exhausted, half the time you don't know what day it is, everyone is stumbling towards the finish line. This may sound a bit dramatic, but really what contributes the most to the general feeling of overwhelm at the end of the year is the realization that you have worked with a group of students for an entire year and now have to let them go - you all suffered through the initial getting-to-know-you phase, but somehow about 3 months in (or maybe 6 or 8 months!) the class finally gels and everyone gets into a nice rhythm. Especially in the art classroom, there comes a time where everyone has a handle on the basic skills and materials and can pursue more and more challenging and conceptually complex work. This moment passes unmarked but I always think of it wistfully in June when I realize that I will lose this particular set of wisdom, this particular mix of personalities, to have them replaced by newbies in the Fall. It's that old swing of the pendulum - I am so lucky when some of these students stay on to take advanced classes with me or in the department so I can loop with them over the years. The project shown below is one of my proudest achievements with my current Advanced Art class. I often say that I just give some parameters and get out of the way of the creative process- I feel that especially with this group of portraits. The assignment was to do a traditional portrait based on a photo (or image in the mirror) of oneself or a friend/family member; students then received photocopies of that portrait to alter and incorporate symbolic imagery (see: Frida Kahlo, Odilon Redon, Marc Chagall). I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I have!