Have students engage in research about a woman who
has made great contributions to the world. Students
can write in their journals about how the woman has
influenced or inspired them.
The Dinner Party tells the stories of women
through symbols. A symbol is an object or image that
represents someone or something. Sojourner Truth and
Caroline Herschel are two of the women represented
in Chicago’s table. Visit the Brooklyn Museum website (see Resources) to learn about their stories and the
symbols used to tell them. Consider the plates as well
as the table runners.
Instruct students to brainstorm visual symbols
that they could use to represent the woman they have
chosen. They should design a work that includes their
subject’s name and at least three symbols that communicate her story. Finished artworks might be arranged
in a manner that allows students to walk around and
experience the work as a collaborative whole. Artworks can be arranged in a triangular formation, like
Chicago’s work, or in a circular shape to imply unity
or continuity. Have students sit behind their symbolic
Roger Shimoura, May 21, 1942, from An American Diary series, 1997. Acrylic on
canvas, 11 x 14" ( 28 x 35 cm). ©Roger Shimomura, courtesy the artist and Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle.
The Dinner Party
Carrie Mae Weems
Time Looking & Learning
artwork, as if they were at a dinner party, and ask one
another questions about the woman they have chosen
Instruct students to journal/sketch from the follow-
ing prompts: “What kinds of activities are a part of
daily life in your home or community?” “What people
and objects are included in these activities?” “In what
spaces do these activities take place?”
Have students choose a setting and activity that
they would like to depict. Guide them to create a
collage using the information they have gathered in
their journals. Students will cut out images of people,
household items, and interior spaces from magazines,
catalogs, and photographs and arrange them to create a
visual narrative about their own daily lives.
Reenacting an event helps us to understand the past.
Have students work in groups to stage a scene from
their shared history, like those in the Constructing
History series, or to act out a moment from their daily
lives. Ask students to record their thoughts and feelings
in a journal during the activity.
Photograph each group’s tableau and provide them
with a copy of the image. Instruct students to use
their group’s image as the inspiration for a work in
a medium of their choice. Each student will create a
unique interpretation of their group’s scene, showcasing the variety of ways in which people experience
events. Using their journal entries as a reference, ask
students to write a short description of their work,
why the moment captured is meaningful to them, and
to what extent this process has helped them understand or feel more connected to the past.
Developed by the Kutztown University Looking and Learning team, with Dr. Marilyn Stewart and graduate students
Amy Ahn, Zoe DeHart, Amanda Deibert, Cassie Langan,
Jennifer Low, Ellen Pados, and Katherine Schneider.
Lead author, Amanda Deibert is a graduate student and
assistant to the art education and crafts department at
Additional Digital Images
Visit the Davis Art Images
website for ten additional
fine-art digital images
to support the concepts
discussed in Looking and
Sinchi Roca, Second Inca, one of fourteen portraits of
Inca Kings, School of Cuzco, Peru, mid-18th century.
Oil on canvas, 23½ x 21½" (60 x 55 cm). Brooklyn
Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York.