Behind the Scenes: Teacher Perspectives on the 10×10 Portrait Show

In our 10×10 Portrait Show, students and teachers alike went through a journey in creating work with each other. For some teachers, the concept of grief and loss were explored in their classrooms. For others, experimenting with new materials was an exciting challenge. Read three written entries from some of the participating teachers and their process in making portraits with their students.

Alisha Marchewka, Patterson Park High School


Alisha Marchewka, “Cuckoo”

When I first heard about the 10 by 10 exhibition inspired by the work of Stephen Townes, I was very excited. My students at Patterson High School come from all over the city and all over the world and have such interesting and unique stories to tell. I felt like this would be a wonderful opportunity for them to express their stories and showcase them to the public!

In my excitement, I wanted to try something I had never tried before – a gel medium photocopy transfer. Arts Ever Day was kind enough to supply me with the materials, and I diligently took photos of every one of my students and printed them on the photocopy machine. The students were excited too after they saw my example.
However, when the day came to take off and reveal our photos, 80% of the transfers didn’t work! They completely rubbed away! The students and I were devastated! But I told them not to give up. Their hard work wasn’t a loss.


What we would do is what any artist would do. We would put the work on the shelf for a week or so, work on something else and come back to it. Figure out and brainstorm another way to make our idea work. A week later I reprinted all of the students pictures and the students figured out ways to incorporate their ‘mess up’ transfers into their work. Either as shadows or alter egos. The end result was even better many times than the original idea!  This was a lesson learned by all of us and an amazing adventure made possible by the 10 by 10 exhibition and Arts Every Day!

Gloria Sleeman, Northwood Elementary School



Gloria Sleeman, “Self Portrait”

Students created a rough drawing of their faces using the photo as a tracing reference.  After this, students began painting their face, hair, and background using Tempera paint.  Some students took several classes to complete the painting process.  After painting students were instructed to go back over their facial features with a sharpie to make them stand out.  Once the painting process was complete I helped students glue their images down on to cardboard.  Students chose and attached various fabrics, embellishments, and decorations in order to complete their portraits.





Sia Kyriakakos, Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School and 2017 National Teacher of the Year Finalist

This is work is a body of small sketches intended to become large scale sculptural photos. Each one depicts a student lost. Mine were lost to the streets of Baltimore, however  other teachers’ students who have died are represented as well. The loss is impactful as was their lives. When I was asked to submit work for this show I had already been creating small portraits of Baltimore city students lost throughout my years of teaching. These were little sketches created as thumbnails intended to eventually become a large sculptural photographs and installations. As an artist I always start with a piece of writing to work through my ideas, feelings and visualize eventually something that will become concrete. Sometimes it just stays as a piece of writing deep in my our journal never to be seen however my point about Eddie [and the following poem, “Untitled] became an entire unit about healing in Baltimore city.

Sia Kyriakakos, ” Our Kids Lost”


So went to Eddie’s wake
Did you know the funeral home was across from my school?
I had never noticed it before…
So close … It felt just ..wrong
I parked at school like I do every morning and crossed the street.
Old men smoking, a young mom, baby on hip
Went up the marble steps
More girls sitting on the staircase with two tone trek,
And there, in the narrow hallway slowly weaving through old and young I came to the once living room. I stopped. I almost turned to leave. I just couldn’t.
He always smiled- rows of braces, shining at me.
I pushed myself in
There in front of the windows, facing my school, there lay my student, one of my sons.
So handsome, sleeping.
Gold sequence vest!;)
His skin shiny and chocolate
But his lips sealed
I must have been crying when two of his friends, my kids from two years ago,
hugged me tight.
I looked at them, I almost smiled -one had been the biggest pain,
His mom and I had spit blood for him, to get him to graduate
And now he stood there, supporting me, and he was taller!
Eddie’s sister held me tight and thanked me for being his teacher,
but it was my privilege, that I got to know Him
Did he ever take his braces out?
Not yet.
Gave his mother a hug and sat down.
Behind the rows of grieving heads
“Look Eddie”, she called to him “more of your friends have come.”
And the little row house with its marble steps,
here the middle of west Baltimore was filled with young people.
And Eddie lay there in his finest,
“More Friends Eddie coming”
They should have been at a party together not here
This was the wrong place to see them all together …
Across from my school








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