Lesson of the Day: ‘Seeing Our Own Reflection in the Birth of the Self-Portrait’

Lesson of the Day: ‘Seeing Our Own Reflection in the Birth of the Self-Portrait’

2. After you have chosen your artwork, use the same questions from the warm-up to formulate your analysis:

Then dig a little deeper:

  • What do you notice about the composition, colors, objects and people in the artwork?

  • Why did this artwork stand out to you? What do you find interesting or moving about it?

  • What do you think is the purpose of this artwork? What do you think the artist wanted the viewer to understand about him- or herself?

  • What questions would you ask the artist about this work if you could?

3. You can write your analysis and interpretation as an essay, or consider a creative presentation application like Google Slides or Prezi to help you focus your audience on the details of the artwork you find most significant.

Option 2: Create Your Own Self-Portrait.

Now it’s your turn again: Use what you learned from the article and the Dürer masterpiece to artistically represent yourself. Feel free to build upon your portrait from the warm-up activity or start a new one.

You can choose any style (realistic or abstract), use any fine arts form (painting, photo or sculpture) and take any tone (funny, absurd, dramatic, contradictory), but your self-portrait should be personal, honest and represent your unique individuality and perspective.

We know that representing who you are in one image is an impossible task. So you might start by thinking about what aspects of your identity you want to show: What do you want to reveal about your family, class, gender, ethnicity, religion, culture or nationality? Do you want to show your flaws, weaknesses and vulnerabilities? Your hopes and aspirations? Do you want to play with how others see you, or misperceive you?

And of course, like Dürer, consider questions like: How do you want to pose? Do you want to look straight at the viewers, away from them, or perhaps obscure your face and gaze? How do you want to hold your hands, your body? What attire best represents your vision of yourself? How might different backgrounds or lighting enhance this conception?

You shouldn’t worry about your technical skill, but “How to Draw a Self-Portrait” provides some helpful tips for novice artists.

Last, when you are finished with your self-portrait, share it with your class and create a gallery exhibition to view everyone’s pieces.

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