My Coat of Arm and Self-Portrait / by Louisa Ulrich-Verderber

I made these two pieces as part of a project for my U.S. history class. The basis of the project was for students to explain their personal political ideologies and to create a unique way of presenting who they saw themselves to be inside.

 I, with my usual vigor and artistic flare, decided to create this collage and coat of arms. The coat of arms took me a while to finish, only because it took so long to decide what I wanted to represent about my self and what the symbols should be. Eventually, after at least an hour of drawing and redrawing symbols I settled on four: a Sun, a light bulb, mountains, and a question mark. I got the idea of doing a coat of arm from both my families own crest and my innate love of Harry Potter – I’m in Ravenclaw house by the way- and I wanted to create something similar to a house crest. 

Now to explaining what the heck everything represents…

The Sun:

The first symbol, the sun, represents my Persistence and comprehensiveness. Just as the sun’s light is unyielding and constant so is my pursuit for the answers to question and solutions to problems.

The Light bulb:

The light bulb represents my artistic creativity, along with my many odd and spectacular ideas for machines and devices.  I am an avid artist and am constantly doodling, sketching, and welding to release tension and relax from the stress of everyday life. 


The mountains represent my longing for travel, new spaces, and experiences. My love of travel is deep and I never am happiest then when I stand on the top of some mountain ten thousand miles away or am running along a foreign beach. Exploration and the discovery of new places fills me with immense joy.

Question Mark:

The Question Mark represents my curiosity and insatiable quest for answers. I am constantly asking “Why?” “What?” and “How?” whenever I run into something I am unfamiliar with.

The Crowning Bird:

This bird represents ambition to “fly” or to succeed and to learn as much as I possibly can about the world, its cultures, and environments. It also reminds me of my Hogwarts house, Ravenclaw, whose motto is "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure."

While the crest was relatively quick to make the collage did, well, not. First of all it took me a while to figure out what I was going to do for this part of the project in the first place. After I had chosen to do a collage I dove in.

Every Thursday I work with my school’s art teacher and family friend to do extra art after school in her art studio. I have found this space and time to be extremely relaxing and fun. There are a few other kids in the group, we joke about each others art and talk about school, its one of my favorite days of the week. Anyway, back to the collage, once I had chosen to do a collage I used this after school time to start on the collage.

I got my friend Noah to take an interesting picture of me and then preceded to cutout bits of magazine pages to get the colors needed to make the collage, which was tedious. After I had a sizable pile of paper bits I took an old chalkboard that some one has accidentally painted on and set to work. First I drew a sketch of the picture of myself to act as a blue print for where the colored bits of paper would go, next I used mogepauge to layer the right colors on the sketch of my head and body. After I had the body finished I cut out words and phrased that resonated with me and used them to out line my body.

This collage is very representative of who I am, and who I have become through this project. My body and head is made up of many bits and pieces of images, which represent all the moment, memories and feeling that make up who I am inside; colorful and complex. The words on the outside, which out line my body, are representative of all of the external events that shape me and all of the things I value and like; exploration, peace, hard work.