Representing a Life Story

Activity Steps:

Images can tell us a great deal about people, places, and events. Create your own symbol and then combine it with those of your classmates to tell a collective story.

1. Think:
Look at the artworks by Joan Brown and Jay DeFeo. How do they use symbols to tell specific parts of a story?
2. Create:
Make a symbol to represent your feelings about who you are today and what is important to you. You can also choose a symbol that represents you as you were five years ago, or as you might be five years from now. Apply your symbol to a fabric panel using markers, paint, or other art materials. Be sure to draw a border around it, as it will become part of a class quilt.
3. Write:
Exchange panels with a classmate and write in your journal about what you think his or her symbol means. What does it tell you about your classmate? How does your previous knowledge of the person help you analyze it? Feel free to ask questions in order to gain insight and help your writing.
4. Present:
Combine your panel with those of your classmates to create a quilt.
5. Extension:
In the spirit of Jay DeFeo and her monumental painting The Rose, enlarge your symbol on a giant piece of paper.
6. Extension:
Interview another person to discover a theme that characterizes his or her life, and then ask how he or she would symbolize it. Write a short paragraph about your findings.