I love incorporating symbolism into the Art room and thought self-portraits would be an interesting way for tenth grade students to portray themselves without actually needing to draw a realistic portrait. While I believe the ability to draw the human face and figure in proportion are important, I really wanted the students to focus on representing themselves for this project.
We began this unit by learning about symbolism and discussing the symbolism found in several famous paintings. Students also had a chance to learn about Guiseppe Arcimboldo, an artist who painted portraits out of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
Next students brainstormed important things about themselves and created visual representations of these items. Each student was provided with a black and white print-out of their photo and asked to collage their symbols into the paper. We discussed shapes and sizes and how best to mesh the symbols together so that the face still appeared in the picture.
When the rough draft was finished, students drew a grid on top of their drawing and transferred it to large white drawing paper. All the symbols were transferred using the grid, but none of the lines of the photograph were. Because the project was a representation of each individual student, I encouraged them to use a variety of materials to add color to the final draft. The use of collage added interest and an aspect of individuality to each piece of work.
I used the power point below to initiate discussion of symbolism in famous paintings. The students were especially interested in The Arnolfini Wedding.
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Students used the handout below to help them brainstorm important things about themselves.
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Students followed the rubric below while they were working on their self-portrait.
10-Symbolic Portrait Rubric.doc
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