To provide students with opportunities to explore how artists have
expressed identity through their work, to look at ways identity is
expressed in our culture, and to allow students to reflect on how
their own identity can be expressed.
What is identity? Webster's dictionary states identity is "the
distinguishing character or personality of an individual. Identity
begins with our names, addresses, family groups, and cultural backgrounds,
but how does it grow from there? Is identity how we see ourselves
or how others see us? Is identity what we are or what we would like
to be? Do we form our own identity or do others form it for us?
Can identity be changed? Why is it important to express our identity?
Artists express their identities when they make art. Do they give
us clues about themselves and their identities in their art? How
have these artists expressed identities through their works?
- Frank Gehry often uses images and forms of fish in his work.
Why do you think he does that? What symbols did James Rosenquist
include in his painting, World's Fair Mural? What do
these symbols represent? What symbols does Pepón Osorio
use in the sculpture 100% Boricua? Why?
- Chuck Close's Big Self Portrait and Kiki are
painted in very different ways. Can you guess why?
- Consider Marsden Hartley's Portrait. Does this look
like the portraits you have seen before? What makes this work
- The Sande Mask and Intrigue both focus on
masks. What is a mask? Describe the differences between the masks
shown in these two works. Describe the similarities.
Ask students to list things that form their identities such as
names, addresses, family groups, peer groups, and cultural backgrounds.
Ask students to voluntarily share subjects from their lists to make
a larger class list of forms of identity. Discuss items that many
people have in common from their lists.
Give each group of students one question about identity from the
introduction and discussion questions. Have each group choose one
person to write down the discussion and another to make an oral
report back to the class.
Write questions from the introduction and discussion questions
on slips of paper, one for each class member. Each student will
choose one of the questions from a hat and write a page in his or
her journal about it. During class, ask students to share what they
learned from writing about identity. Ask for volunteers to share
responses to the questions.
- Africa, Sierra Leone, Sande Society
Mask, 20th century, wood, raffia, H. 13 in. MIA
- Chuck Close, Big Self-Portrait,
1968, acrylic on canvas 107 1/2 x 83 1/2 in.
- Chuck Close, Kiki, 1993, oil
on canvas, 100 x 84 1/8 in. WAC
- James Ensor, Intrigue,
1911, oil on canvas, H. 37 1/4 in., W. 44 1/2 in. MIA
- Frank Gehry, Standing Glass Fish,
1986, wood, glass, steel, silicone, Plexiglas, rubber, 264 x 168
x 102 in. WAC
- Robert Gwathmey Nobody Around
Here Calls Me Citizen, 1943, oil on canvas, 14 x 17 in. WAM
- Marsden Hartley, Portrait,
1914-15, oil on canvas, WAM
- Pepón Osorio, 100% Boricua,
1991, wood, glass, Plexiglas, paper, fabric, metal, plastic, 79 3/8
x 33 1/2 x 20 1/2 in. WAC
- James Rosenquist, World's Fair
Mural, 1964, oil on Masonite, 240 x 240 in. WAM
- Ernest Whiteman, Untitled, steel and neon. H.
73, W. 44 1/2 in. MIA