Inside My Head Collage | Collage Portrait Tutorial for Self-Expression

Inside My Head Collage

Classroom Ready Guided Tutorial:

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We are living in historic times.

Students today are surrounded by uncertainty and disrupted routines. I like to think I am a well adjusted adult, and I am STRUGGLING with how my daily life has changed in 2020. Creating art is such a powerful tool to explore our thoughts, emotions, beliefs and values. I tell my students as often as possible that we don’t make art just to match our living room curtains. I have tried, really tried, to show my students a variety of art forms created for a purpose.

Art captures the human experience across time. It expresses beauty as well as injustice. It is a time capsule of individuality as well as civilization.

I believe (duh) that visual art is an integral part of education. Now more than ever I think it is important that young people have the opportunity to explore and express their emotional experience through art.

Collage is a great tool for self expression in the classroom. Drawing a self-portrait can be an intimidating challenge for so many reasons. Writing an essay about your emotions can make students panic. I have found that creating a collage allows students to successfully explore their thoughts and symbolism without relying on their technical drawing or writing ability.

Download my PDF for your students!

If you want your students to draw their own profile view, check out my tutorial here:

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I try to incorporate writing into the daily art experience in my classroom. Whether I was teaching high school or 5th grade, I always have students keep a sketchbook. We do daily warm-ups that include students writing about artworks, techniques and self-reflection. It is such a great way to hit all of those art standards daily and it makes classroom management SO much easier! Having students write and reflect help them develop their ideas visually.

Prompts to Consider:

  • What is a self-portrait? How can you use images and words to describe your personality, interests and beliefs?
  • What is it like to be a young person in the 21st century? What are the best aspects of being a kid today? What are the challenges?
  • What does the inside of your head look during summer break? What does it look like during the school year? How is it the same/different?
  • What were the best parts of quarantining instead of going to school? What were the most challenging?
  • Imagine you are sending a time capsule to outer space. What are the most important things you want aliens to know about being a human?
  • Imagine you are living during ____________. What images and words would you use to describe that experience?
  • What is ____________ showing us in their artwork? What symbols did they use to help us understand the meaning of their artwork? What would the inside of ____________ head look like?
  • What is an injustice you have witnessed? What do you think it felt like/what did it feel like to be on the receiving end of injustice?
  • What is your ______(best/worst/favorite/) memory of ______ (childhood, elementary school, high school, family, friends)?
  • Think of a time you felt misunderstood. If that person could see inside your head, what would they see?

Four Collage Artists To Explore:

Ervin A. Johnson

Massogona Sylla

Hannah Hoch

Romare Bearden

3 thoughts on “Inside My Head Collage

  1. Sierra, This is so amazing! Thank you for sharing something that we can give to our students who desperately need this right now! I only have one more week of “school”, but I’m sure that my students will love to have this project as an outlet of what they just went through in the last 3 months of school. Plus, I have many seniors and they have experienced the biggest hit out of this. This will be great for them to reflect and help them process their feelings! Thank you for sharing!

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