Litchfield County: Happening in the Hills
On Our Radar
Faces, places, treasures, and trends that caught our attention
Juan Paolo Alicante

Beyond Face Value: A creative exploration of Art, Race, and Empathy 

In the words of equity consultant and illustrator Giovanna Adams, culture is an iceberg: what can be seen on the surface is only a fraction of our full identity. Which begs the question, how does the visual information in an artwork reveal the process of making it? How does seeing what’s usually unseen change our understanding of it?

This March, thanks to the generous support of the Litchfield Education Foundation, Art Room Atelier, Litchfield’s award-winning family art studio, offers Beyond Face Value: Art, Race, and Empathy. This free, online art program for tweens and teens will be exploring identity through collage and pastel portrait drawing, under the guidance of teaching artist Sarah Zahran.

Provided with custom art kits for materials, our project will be completed in two phases: collage with patterned paper and magazine cutouts, then portraits mixing skin tones with pastel. These portraits will provide visual narratives of each artist’s layered personal histories.

Juan Paolo Alicante

Zahran’s philosophy centers on building trust and respect with her students. She will introduce the class to leading contemporary black artists and activists, then demonstrate techniques and prompt independent off screen work. One of the many functions of art, and, more importantly, the process of creating, is as an antidote and cultural sounding board for complex, emergent issues around race.

Raised in a mixed-race household with an immigrant parent, Zahran’s personal art making process is often concerned with unraveling the tangled threads of her own identity. She learned from an early age that race and cultural identity is nuanced and multidimensional.

Cultural disconnects and lack of language around the subject created a great deal of confusion for Sarah growing up in the predominantly white public school systems of Southbury. Gaining access to more inclusive spaces and a wider range of voices online during her college years as an engineering student at Stevens Institute of Technology, in NJ, Sarah quickly discovered that her quest to navigate her own identity was inextricably linked to the greater social dynamics. With Beyond Face Value, Sarah will weave her passions for art, activism, and education into a transformative experience for Litchfield area teens.

Facilitated by Sarah Zahran of Art Room Atelier.

4 Online classes FREE
Thursday 3/18 – 4/8
4 -5 pm or asynchronous, with recording

For more information and registration, go to, follow on Instagram at @artroomatelier, and Facebook at Art Room Atelier

  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Karen Raines Davis
    Westbury Realty
    Dumais Interior Design