Johnnycake Elementary School comes face-to-face with the community


When some Johnnycake Elementary students returned to school on Aug. 24, they found themselves face-to-face with themselves – actually with huge black and white portraits of themselves pasted to the outside of the school building.

“The kids were extremely excited!” said Natasha MacNichol, art teacher at Johnnycake and Mays Chapel elementary schools. “I had taken their photos back in June so most of them had forgotten about the project. The kids who were photographed felt famous, and it seemed to energize everyone and get them ready for the new school year!”

The 15 portraits at Johnnycake Elementary are part of an international participatory art project called Inside Out. Initiated by French artist JR, the project seeks to “transform personal identity into works of public art” and so far has involved more than 200,000 people from 112 countries and territories.


“The Inside Out Project is about taking a positive message of any kind and sharing it with your community through art,” MacNichol said. “At Johnnycake, we have amazing teachers and even more amazing students. However, I frequently hear negative rumors about our school. When I heard about the Inside Out Project, I thought it would be the perfect way to show everyone around us just how awesome our school is! When you see the pictures of the students, they are adorable, cheerful, and heartwarming. I don't think anyone could see their little faces and think a negative thought!”

Johnnycake Elementary is the second BCPS school to produce an Inside Out project. Last April, 70 Milford Mill Academy students participated under the direction of art teacher Kristin Kotarski.

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