Eighth Graders share with Box Portrait Projects
Middle School student Anay painted a realistic self portrait with added accents.


For more than 15 years, Middle School Art Teacher and recipient of MAEA’s Maryland Middle-Level Art Educator award Dave Anderson has encouraged his students to use art as a way to escape the day-to-day of academic rigor. “Boys need a break,” Dave explains. “They need opportunities to express themselves and really get lost in their own artwork.”  With the first year-long, eighth-grade art class full of enthusiastic artists, the newly evolved Box Portrait Project was born.

Dave first introduced the Box Portrait Project to his eighth-grade class in 2003 after being inspired by the works of local artist Schroeder Cherry. The main focus of this project was to build on the students’  portraiture skills. Over the years, the project has evolved into an opportunity for students to share their conceptual interpretations of societal issues as well as interpretations of themselves.  

From words of self-affirmation of an unsure student to a reflection of a student who is color blind, this year’s eighth-grade art class used this project to share intimate pieces of themselves with their teacher and the Gilman community.

Learn more about the Eighth Grade Box Portrait Projects from these student artists.