Potomac Elementary Students Become Their Art

Potomac Elementary Students Become Their Art

Whole school collaboration makes one photo using all students.

Students and staff get ready for their Mustang photo.

Students and staff get ready for their Mustang photo. Photo courtesy of Potomac Elementary School


Potomac Elementary School students and staff get into position for a photograph to be taken from 100 feet in the air.


Student members of the Potomac Elementary School ART team fill buckets with black mulch for outlining their mustang.

Students and staff at Potomac Elementary School did more than just collaborate in an art project this week, they were the art.

Each was a “paint dot” of color in an all school photo creating the head of a mustang, the school’s mascot.

Artist in Residence Daniel Dancer was at the school last week working with the students and staff to create a living portrait to include all 450 students and 50 staff members.

Dancer, a former photo journalist, now runs Art for the Sky, a team building activity that, according to Dancer’s website, is “a whole-body way of stimulating our imagination to see the elusive ‘big picture’ and help us better understand our interconnections with all life.”

During the kick-off assembly, Dancer showed slides of many of his works, giving the children a picture of what they were creating. By wearing a designated colored t-shirt and crouching down so he could photograph them from high above the school playground, Dancer created the portrait.

For that, a bucket truck from the National Institutes of Health fire company came to the school to raise Dancer and school principal Catherine Allie 100 feet in the air.

“I thought this was a great way to celebrate our last year in this school,” Allie said.

Fifth grader Sam Epstein agreed with Allie.

“I thought it was a smart idea because we are celebrating the school,” he said.

Epstein and classmates Desi Amprey and Isabella Ho talked about the photo at lunch Thursday, Nov. 9, the day the picture was taken.

Even though the morning started with rain, school administrators decided to try to get the photo done that day.

Fortunately, the rain stopped and even in the chilly morning, the students filed out of the school in shirts of blue, black and white, predesignated to make up the colors in the head of the mustang.

“Everyone’s together and happy,” Isabella said. “We are all making memories.”

Allie said she heard about Dancer’s work last year, but it was only two weeks ago that he was able to work Potomac Elementary into his schedule.

“We did this all in two weeks,” she said. “students and parents really cooperated … you saw everyone in the same colored shirts.”

Art teacher Victoria Wenger said the school’s Parents Teachers Association helped make Dancer’s visit a reality.

“It was a lesson in collaboration,” she said. “What was great about this was the artist worked with the whole school.”

Friday morning the student body and staff met in the all-purpose room for the photo reveal. Dancer had left to return home to Oregon but created a video of the process at Potomac for the children to see. It wasn’t until the end of the video that they saw the final product: the blue head of a mustang with flowing white mane outlined in black.

The children broke into applause.

“I thought it was really cool, the way we all blended together,” Desi said as she left the assembly.