Personal Symbols, Personal Mythology

The Big Idea:

What role do symbols play in defining a person's identity? Can symbols have multiple meanings?

Activity overview

Everyone searches for and finds his or her own identity through a wide variety of experiences and expressions. Often a system of personal symbols can express that identity. Artists may construct a private symbolic language in order to talk about themselves or to grapple with the world's injustices and challenges. In this activity you will create a piece of art that reflects your own personal symbolism.

Look closely

Click on each artist button at right to view detailed screens about the artist and his or her works. Be sure to click on all images, view all videos, read all documents, and use the zoom tool to look closely at the works of art.

In this activity you will:

  1. look at several artists and their use of personal symbolism
  2. list your own personal traits and create symbols to represent them
  3. create a self-portrait and present it to the class
  4. reflect on your classmates' portraits and how their symbolism represents their personalities

You will be graded on:

  1. notes on symbols and artists in Making Sense of Modern Art
  2. quality, craft, and attention to design in self-portrait
  3. originality and completeness of self-portrait
  4. participation in class critique
  5. written reflection

New terms:

symbolism