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; the condition
of being the same with something described or asserted." 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 how 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 identity when they make art. Do they give
us clues about themselves and their identity in their art? How have
these artists expressed identity 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 Hartley's, Portrait. Does this look like the
portraits you have seen before? What makes this work a "portrait?"
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.
On a piece of paper, ask students to list things that form their
identity 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 had 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 as a scribe to write down the discussion and another as a
reporter 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 their
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. The Christina
N. and Swan J. Turnblad Memorial Fund 72.69.1 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, Belgian, 1860-1949 , Intrigue,
1911, Oil on canvas, H. 37 1/4 in., W. 44 1/2 in. Gift of Mr.
John Sargent Pillsbury 70.38 MIA
- Frank Gehry, Standing Glass Fish,
1986, wood, glass, steel, silicone, Plexiglas, rubber, 264 x 168
x 102 in. WAC
- Robert Gwathmey (1903-1988), Nobody
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, Inuna-ina (Arapaho),
United States, born 1947, Untitled, steel and neon. H.
73x in., W, 44 1/2 in., The David Draper Dayton Fund 92.140 MIA