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Theme: Identity
Grade: Middle School
Time: 6-7 classes (50 minutes in length)

Our memories are a powerful element in the quest to understand who we are and where we came from. These
memories might involve family rituals, stories that are passed down through generations, events of cultural significance,
or moments of personal reflection. We can begin to explore our identities by looking to the past for clues into how we
developed into the persons we are today.
Artists have used memories to explore their identities by developing visual personal narratives. Carmen Lomas Garza is
a Chicano artist from Texas that explores her Mexican-American ancestry through painting scenes from her childhood.
Family narrative is an important theme in her work. Another artist known for her narrative work is Faith Ringgold.
Raised by a dressmaker grandmother and fashion designer mother, Ringgold incorporates her storytelling on quilts.
Through her childhood narratives, she explores her identity as an African-American female.
A third artist, Alberto Rey, explores his Cuban-American identity in a slightly different manner than Garza and Ringgold.
He searches through his memory to find the items that are quintessential to the Cuban childhood experience and
elevates those items to a magnified status for his large-scale paintings.
This lesson asks students to examine their memories as a way to explore their identities. They will begin by creating part
of a mind map, responding to questions about their pasts. Then they will choose a memory to explore deeper, resulting
in a finished drawing/painting to be shared with the class.


Carmen Lomas Garzas painting Empanadas.

Alberto Reys painting Bag of Chicharonnes.
Faith Ringgolds storyquilt Tar Beach

Stage 1: Desired Results

Desired Understandings
Students will understand that
Contemporary artists use memories to explore their identities.
Memories are unique to each person.
Memories can be a used as subject matter for art making.

Essential Questions

How does our past play a part in whom we are today?

How can we explore memories through art making?
How do artists use memories to explore their personal and cultural identities?
How can we create quality artwork about memories?



Students will know [how to]

Use a mind map to explore their identities through
memories of past experiences
Explain their memories in visual and written form
Use certain art vocabulary terms such as focal
point, perspective and point-of-view.

Students will be able to

Create a painting of a memory that directly relates
to their current identities.
Illustrate a scenario.
Create an artist statement.

Washington State Visual Art Standards:

1.1: Understands and applies arts concepts and
1.2: Develops arts skills and techniques.
1.3: Understands and applies arts genres and styles of
various artists, cultures, and times.
2.1: Applies a creative process to the arts.
2.2: Applies a performance and/or presentation process to
the arts.

3.1: Uses the arts to express feelings and present ideas.

3.2: Uses the arts to communicate for a selected purpose.
3.3: Develops personal aesthetic criteria to communicate
artistic choices.
4.4: Understands how the arts influence and reflect
cultures/civilization, place and time.

Stage 2: Assessment Evidence

Performance Task: Appropriated Memory Painting
Students will create a painting portrays a memory from their childhood and explain the importance of that memory to
their current identities.
Student self-assessment and teacher assessment using teacher-made rubric (attached).

Other evidence:

Exit slips: What does the object of your memory have to do with who your current identity?
How does family play a part in who you are now?
Create a different ending to your memory. How would it have affected your identity?
What point-of-view did you use in your artwork? Why?
Mind map: Students will create a mind map involving memories to demonstrate reflection of their memories.

Stage 3: Learning Activities

(Steps taken to get students to answer Essential Questions and complete Performance Task.)

Ask students to display objects or artifacts that they have on them or in their backpacks. What meaning do the
objects have?
Show the paintings of contemporary Cuban-American artist Alberto Rey and discuss what the objects in the
paintings might mean to the artist. Bag of Chicarrones from the Icons series, and Las Balsas IV from the Las
Balsas series. Ask students to describe what they see in the paintings, and what those objects have to do with
the artists identity.
Watch part of an interview in which Alberto Rey discusses the Las Balsas series in Identity, Memory, and
Diaspora (16:22-24:38). Discuss how the images were part of his identity and culture.
Look at work of other contemporary artists who use memories as a way to express their identities, such as Faith
Ringgolds Tar Beach and Carmen Lopez Garzas Tamalada and El Milagro. Discuss how each artist is using
a memory from their childhood to explore their identity.
What is going on in this painting?
Why do you think the artist chose to paint this scene?
How do you think the narrative relates to the artists childhood?
Discuss how the artist used differing points of view in the above pieces. Why would the artist choose to show

the scene from above?

Discuss the quality of the artworks.
How did the artists fill the space?
What did the artists create focal points?
How did the artists use details to convey their childhood memory?
How did the artists create contrast in each of the paintings?
Explain that these are specific qualities that you will be looking for in the students artwork.
Students fill out the Memories section of their mind map, part of the Past Self. Ask students questions to
spark recollections of their past, such as:
What is a favorite memory involving food?
What is a favorite memory involving a grandparent?
What was an activity that you did with a sibling or friend?
What is something you were good at doing?
What is a favorite memory involving smell?
What is something you enjoyed doing with a parent?
Where was your favorite place to go?
Choose one of these memories that connects to who you are now. How did that experience shape your
Write about the experience in detail. Who was there? What did it smell like? Sound like? What colors were
the strongest?
Have students sketch their chosen memory in their sketchbook, purposely choosing a point-of-view .
Have students choose one of their sketches to turn into a painting, drawing, or collage.
Allow the students time to complete their artwork. (Painting on canvas board, drawing, collage, etc).
Ask exit slip questions daily for evidence students thought processes.
Have students assess their own artwork using the scoring rubric as a reflection tool before turning it in to be


Assignment: Students will use a memory from their childhood as a subject matter for a work of art.
The artwork should include a focal point, contrast, and an interesting point of view. A written description of the
memory accompanies the artwork. Works from contemporary artists provide examples for students.
To receive a "satisfactory," the artwork must:

Fill the page

Reflect a memory from his or her childhood
Indicate some attention to detail
Respond to four of the questions on the mind map
Compare and contrast his or her mind map to that of another students
Be accompanied by a written work clearly explaining the memory or narrative being illustrated
Include contrasting colors (bright and dark colors)
Students were able to describe what they saw in the selected artists works

To receive a ''proficient," the students artwork must meet all of the criteria for a satisfactory and:

Respond to five or more of the questions on the mind map

Demonstrate effective use of detail, color blending, contrast, and outlining to add dimension and visual interest.
Students were able to interpret what they saw in the selected artists works

To receive an "exceptional," the students artwork must meet all of the criteria for a "proficient" and:

Include a strong focal point to draw the viewer's attention

Show an unusual point of view, such as aerial perspective or panoramic perspective
The written work uses outstanding supports and details
Students were able to interpret and show deeper insight

List three things that you learned in this lesson:
1. ___________________________________________________________________________________________
2. ___________________________________________________________________________________________
3. ___________________________________________________________________________________________
Here is something that I would like to do better: __________________________________________________________
I can do this by: _____________________________________________________________________________________
Another way that I can explore memories through artmaking is: ______________________________________________