Identity and Ideals Looking & Learning
Review the ways the makers of the featured artworks
incorporated symbols. Help students understand how
they might use symbols to suggest their own characteristics and things they care about. Explain that students can create symbols to stand for personality traits
as well as their special interests. Brainstorm examples
as a group.
Have students design a T-shirt or other piece of
clothing that says something about who they are and
what they care about. The T-shirt motif might represent a group to which they belong, such as a band, art
group, athletic team, or club. Alternatively, the symbols might represent special personality traits, such as
a love of nature, shyness, or playfulness. Remind students to pay attention to the use of color, pattern and
arrangement to communicate their identity, as did the
artists who created these objects.
threaded with beading thread, from the back of the
fabric to a line drawn on the front. Select three seed
beads of the appropriate color and place them on the
needle. Push your needle through the fabric next to
the last bead. Repeat, adding beads to complete the
design, changing colors as appropriate.
Have students explore the
process of beading. Like Joyce
Scott, they might consider
a necklace or pendant to set
them apart from the crowd.
Like Teri Greeves, they might
embellish something that normally would not be decorated.
What clothing item (shoes, a
hat) or objects (lunch box, cell
phone, water bottle) might they
bead? What symbols of their
identity will they include in
the motif or pattern?
Students should create the
bead design on a 5" ( 13 cm)
square piece of felt, and attach
the fabric to their chosen object
or, if making a pendant, to a
piece of cardboard. Make several sketches, choose a favorite,
and simplify the pattern to
include a few colors and shapes.
To sew, push a bead needle,
Have students create a papier-mâché self-portrait that
includes symbols to show who they are and what they
care about. Students may make a portrait bust, includ-
ing only head and shoulders, or a full-figure portrait.
The portrait might include clothes, favorite objects,
animals, or pets, as well as symbols for certain per-
sonality traits. Have students think of the groups to
which they belong that help make up their identity.
The family is most people’s first group, but religious
groups, sports teams, and other clubs are also obvi-
ous choices. Have students consider how they might
symbolize membership in one
or more of these groups. Ask,
What else is important to
you? Are you wild and flam-
boyant like Joyce Scott? Are
you more shy and inward?
How might you convey these
Portrait busts may be
built on crumpled newspaper
and/or cardboard armatures.
Full-figure portraits might
also incorporate sturdy wire.
Remind students that each
step of the process will be
and symbols, creating a
sturdy armature, and finish-
ing, first with primer, then
paint and added details.
Joyce J. Scott, Sculpture, 2005.
Developed by Dr. Marilyn Stewart, professor of art education at
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, with Amy Albert Bloom,
art teacher, Governor Mifflin
High School, Reading, Pennsylvania.
Additional Digital Images
The Hudson Museum, University of Maine, provides
a history and beautiful images of Northeastern
beadwork from the 17th century to the present-day.
The PBS series, Craft In America, features Joyce J. Scott
in “Messages,” and Teri Greeves in “Origins.”
Purchase the video or view the series online at
Visit the Davis Art Images website for
ten additional fine-art digital images
to support the concepts discussed in
Looking and Learning.
Bandolier bag, from Canada, Chippewa Culture, 1880s–c1900. Glass
beads, cloth, and velvet. ©Museum: Cleveland Museum of Art.