Students will explore the concept of symbolism in art, and how they can use symbols—images—to represent aspects of themselves. Using magazines, books and other random two-dimensional found objects (such as playing cards or ticket stubs), students will carefully arrange symbolic imagery into a collage within a silhouette of their own profile.
Students will carefully choose imagery that symbolizes or represents aspects of themselves to arrange in collage form within a silhouette of their own profile.
Activity statement –
If images and symbols from the everyday world could be used to represent who you are, what images and symbols would you choose? Students will explore this idea, in the process discussing the ways in which we sometimes consciously and unconsciously choose to align ourselves with certain images and symbols through the clothes we wear, the way we might decorate our rooms, how we select products to consume, etc.
This unit was one my students already explored in second grade, when I first introduce them to the concept of symbolism. https://anitasagastegui.com/2020/04/29/2nd-grade-symbolism-through-a-personal-collage/. I like to re-introduce this unit in seventh grade now that they are adolescents and perhaps would choose completely different kinds of images to represent them in their collage. If possible, I like to have them compare their two collages, so I try to keep the second grade pieces to share with them in seventh grade. Students will carefully look through and choose images and symbols that in some way represent them. They will then consider size and placement of these images in order to create a compelling composition within a real-life silhouette of their profiles, making sure to leave no empty spaces between images. They will share and discuss their choices with the rest of the class.
The concept of symbolism
Ways in which to use imagery to communicate aspects of one’s self
How the arrangement of the images affects composition and focal point
The terms: symbolism, composition, focal point
Be able to:
Articulate their choices to their peers
Create a collage with images of personal importance
Make deliberate choices about the arrangement of these images within the collage
Describe their choices and process to their peers
Resources and materials –
Exemplars of previous silhouette collages demonstrating strong and weak compositions
As many, and varied sources for collage material including books and magazines for students to select images and text from
White Bristol paper, about 14 x 26
Black Bristol paper, also about 14 x 26
A lamp that can be used to project a student’s silhouette (as a shadow) onto a blank wall that a classmate can then trace onto the white Bristol paper
Tape to affix the white paper to a wall while a classmate traces one’s silhouette
What is a symbol?
What does it mean for one thing to symbolize another?
What kinds of images would you choose to represent you? Why?
What is the focal point of your collage?
How will you arrange the remaining images around the focal point?
Tell us about the choices you made in selecting these images.
Tell us about why you decided to arrange these images this way.
Understand how to choose appropriate symbols to represent themselves?
Did students use their understanding of composition and focal point to create a compelling arrangement of images?
Description of the Unit – Frida Kahlo-inspired self-portraits
Students will explore Frida Kahlo’s iconic self-portraits and, using their observations of her work, create their own, including at least one “spirit” animal in the portrait with them.
Relationship to life –
Frida Kahlo was a prolific painter whose most painted subject was herself. She often painted herself with various animals by her side, such as monkeys, parrots, hummingbirds and deer. Some of these were her real life pets, others were animals she identified with. If students had to choose animals that they personally identify with, what animals would they be, and why?