Jada Millen, Flora Emerging, grade six.
26 FEBRUARY 2017 SchoolArts
was first inspired to create a lesson
on Romare Bearden after viewing
his work exhibited with the Jacob
Lawrence Series at the Mississippi
Museum of Art in Jackson in 2008.
The imaginative freedom with which
Bearden used rich texture from clip-
pings to recreate people and places
from his past was the inspiration for
this self-portrait lesson.
After teaching my sixth-grade students
how to draw their faces proportion
ately while looking in a mirror, I intro-
duced Bearden through a slideshow of
his collages. We discussed Bearden's
history, the content of his work, and
what we could learn from the way he
communicated through his art.
We also discussed the Harlem
Renaissance and how this arts explo
sion ushered in a whole new era, mak-
ing way for artists such as Bearden,
Faith Ringgold, Sam Gilliam, Aminah
Robinson, and other artists of the
African diaspora to make their own
art jazz heard around the world.
Lines and Lists
With a newfound understanding and
appreciation of Bearden's collage
work, students redrew their self-
portraits vertically on large sheets of
drawing paper. I instructed them to
keep this as a basic line drawing only,
with no shading.
As students entered the artroom
the next day, I asked them to make a
list in their sketchbooks of at least ten
words that describe who they are. This
included their family, community,
interests, skills, and their dreams.
Using their descriptive lists as a
guide, students began the process of
M I D D L E S C H O O L