Representing a Life Story

The Big Idea:

How can art tell a personal story?

Activity overview

For more than six years, the artist Jay DeFeo explored personal symbolism in a large painting called The Rose (1958-1966). In this activity you will choose a symbol that represents who you are and paint it onto a fabric panel. The class's panels can then be combined into a large quilt.

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 look closely at the works of art.

In this activity you will:

  1. choose a symbol that represents your feelings now, five years ago, or five years from now
  2. create a panel based on your symbol
  3. exchange symbols with a classmate and write about what you think they mean
  4. assemble a class quilt
  5. enlarge your symbol to monumental scale (optional)

You will be graded on:

  1. design and execution of your panel
  2. quality of written response to the panels
  3. class participation

New terms:

symbol