Connecting Poetry & Art Lesson Plan



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Connecting Poetry & Art Lesson Plan



Self-Portrait as Who?

Grades: Middle School (6–8), High School (9–12)

Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts

Time Required: Two to three 50-minute periods

Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff


Lesson Overview

Students explore the topic of portraiture, describe and analyze a sculptor’s self-portrait, and compose poems using simile and symbolism. This lesson is suited for the end of a unit or semester, or for a year-end project.



Learning Objectives

Students will:



  • describe and analyze a portrait sculpture.

  • make personal connections to characters in fictional stories.

  • write a poem using similes and symbols.



Materials


  • Reproduction of Self-Portrait as Midas by Jean-Joseph Carriès

  • Paper

  • Pencils

Featured Getty Artwork

Self-Portrait as Midas by Jean-Joseph Carriès

http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=113695

Lesson Steps

Warm-up

  1. Open a discussion with your students about portraits. Ask students why they think people have images of themselves or others made in photographs, paintings, drawings, or sculpture. Write students’ responses on the board. You may also suggest the following ideas about portraits:

      • They create milestones from which individuals can observe change.

      • They mark a particular point in one’s life or an important event.

      • They suggest someone who is celebrated or important to a group.

2. Tell your students that a self-portrait is a work of art that a person makes of him- or herself. Self-portraits allow people to decide how they want to be seen by others. Ask students how they think self-portraits can communicate something about a person’s personality or interests (e.g., clothing, props, expression, pose, or a combination thereof).




  1. Invite students to share their responses to the following prompts with a partner:

    • How would you want to be represented in a self-portrait?

    • What would you choose to wear?

    • What objects or props would you want to be included?

    • What would you choose for your pose, expression, and setting?

    • What would your choices communicate about you?


Self-Portrait as Midas

1. Display an image of Self-Portrait as Midas without sharing the title. Inform students that it is a self-portrait of an individual. Give students time to look closely at the work and have them share their initial observations. Ask students the following questions:



      • What details do you notice about this portrait (e.g., donkey ears, closed eyes, tilted head, wild hair)?

      • How would you describe the individual’s character (e.g., sleepy, dreaming, confused, wild)?

2. Tell students that the artist Jean-Joseph Carriès created this self-portrait in plaster of himself as the character Midas. Inform students that the famous king Midas is perhaps best known in stories for his ability to touch things and turn them to gold. Point out that the painted surface of the plaster sculpture suggests Midas’s golden touch. Share with students a related story about Midas, as recounted in Ovid’s Metamorphoses:

King Midas was asked to judge a contest to decide who was a better musician—Apollo, the god of music, or Pan. Pan played his pipes while Apollo rivaled him with his lyre. In the end, Midas chose Pan as the winner. Resenting the judge’s choice, Apollo cursed Midas. Since the king’s ears did not recognize the beauty of the lyre’s music, the god transformed the king’s ears to those of a donkey.
3. Inform students that hybrid mythological creatures such as satyrs or centaurs were considered uncivilized and were contrasted with civilized humans in ancient tales. Midas, having not recognized the beauty of Apollo’s music, was cursed to take a hybrid form, and hence would be seen as uncivilized. Prompt students to discuss the following:


  • Why would someone want to be represented as the character of Midas with donkey ears?

  • What characteristics are associated with something or someone who is described as “beastly”?

  • Why do you think so many insults are derived from animals (e.g., pig, rat, dog, sheep, cow, shark, snake)?

4. Inform students that the artist made the sculpture during a time in his life when he was experiencing the feeling of foolishness and feared being perceived as uncultured. Carriès was like other artists of his time who used ideas from historic, literary, and artistic traditions—like his allusion to the story of Midas—to explore concepts symbolically.


Self-Portrait as…

  1. Tell students that they will create a poem in which they imagine themselves as another character, just like Carriès did with Midas.




  1. Invite each student to choose a fictional character that he or she can relate to from among the various books and stories that you reviewed as a class. Examples could include Scrooge from A Christmas Carol—a character associated with selfishness or transformation—or Holden Caulfield from A Catcher in the Rye—a rebellious individual.

3. Have students work in small groups of three or four to brainstorm themes or ideas that make each student’s chosen character unique. Or you may wish to have each group select one book, and each student in the group can choose a different character in the book to write about. Have students discuss the following questions:



      • What qualities distinguish this character?

      • Are there symbols that identify the character? If not, are there objects that would be well-suited symbols for the character?

      • Are there similes or metaphors you could use to describe an aspect of the character’s personality?

      • Is there a particular story or episode that is important to know about this character?




  1. Encourage students to transform their peers’ ideas into written statements from the first-person perspective of their character. Have them use sentence starters like, “I am…,” “I am like a…,” “I feel…,” “I feel like a…,” “I think…,” “I think like a…,” etc.




  1. Suggest that students repeat one or more of the lines at the beginning and end of the poem to emphasize an important quality of the character. Choosing to repeat a line in the body of the poem is also an option. Suggest making some lines short and others longer to vary the pace of the poem. Remind students to use comparative language like similes to open a wider world of associations with the character they are exploring. Using symbolism can help make the character more concrete, having a physical connection. In addition, propose that students include an episode from the character’s story in a language appropriate to the character.




  1. Invite students to read their poems aloud to the class.

Extension

Have students complete either of the following:



  • Draw or sculpt a hybrid self-portrait using defining details or symbols of their character—just like Carriès did with Midas—and display the image as they read their poems.

  • Create an “open-mind portrait” of the selected character, in which students draw an outline of the character’s head and neck and then draw pictures that represent the character’s thoughts or character traits within the outline. For more on open-mind portraits, view “Open Mind Portrait” on the Miss Donaldson’s Reading Place Web site at http://www.rsf.k12.ca.us/~ldonaldson/Site/Open-Mind%20Portrait.html.

Assessment

Students will be assessed on their ability to achieve the following:



  • describe and analyze a portrait sculpture.

  • write a poem using similes and symbols.

Standards Addressed

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts
Grades 6–8

Language


3. Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

Grades 612

Writing


4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Grade 6

Speaking and Listening



SL.6.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

SL.6.2 Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.

Grade 7

Speaking and Listening



SL.7.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

SL.7.2 Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.
Grade 8

Speaking and Listening



SL.8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Grades 9–12

Speaking and Listening



1. Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards

Grades 612

R.CCR.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

R.CCR.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

R.CCR.10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

W.CCR.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

SL.CCR.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 6

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing

4.1 Construct and describe plausible interpretations of what they perceive in works of art.

Grade 7

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing

4.1 Explain the intent of a personal work of art and draw possible parallels between it and the work of a recognized artist.

4.2 Analyze the form (how a work of art looks) and content (what a work of art communicates) of works of art.



Grade 8

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing

4.2 Develop a theory about the artist’s intent in a series of works of art, using reasoned statements to support personal opinions.

4.3 Construct an interpretation of a work of art based on the form and content of the work.



Grades 9 through 12—Proficient

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing



4.1 Articulate how personal beliefs, cultural traditions, and current social, economic, and political contexts influence the interpretation of the meaning or message in a work of art.


© 2014 J. Paul Getty Trust


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