New to art? Get started with this activity

In this tutorial, we want you to think about how art and identity are related. But first, let’s start with the basics of looking at, thinking about, and talking about art. Any visual analysis begins with simply looking at and describing something. So take a look at the work of art below. Take a minute or two to look carefully, zoom in, and let your eyes travel all around the image.
Now using your powers of observation, describe and write down what you see. You can talk about this artwork however you like, but you might want to begin with these concepts:
  • Subject: What is the subject of this image, and who is being depicted? Why might an artist want to create a self portrait?
  • Composition: Composition refers to the arrangement of elements in a work of art. How is the subject of this image oriented in regard to you, the viewer? How does she relate to the background?
  • Medium: A medium is the type of art or the materials an artwork is made of. Can you tell which medium is being used here? Why do you think the artist chose this medium when making a self portrait?
  • Or maybe there is some other way you would like to describe this work of art?

For further discussion

Now that you’ve visually explored this work of art, share your thoughts in the Questions area below. Then read the other responses, compare them to your own, and see if someone might inspire you to think about art in a new way.
Remember: art is always open to interpretation, so there are no wrong answers!
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