Students will analyze family dynamics, past and present. After discussing, students will produce a visual and written response from the point of view of one family member.
National Core Standards
- Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art
- Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences
Three or four class periods
- Image of Charles Philips, “The Edwards Family on a Terrace”
- Family portraits, photographs
- Writing materials
- Discuss Charles Philips’ family portrait of the Edwards family. What can we learn about this family? How are they related? Do the parents and children look like they have a close relationship? Are any characters fighting behind the scenes? Why has the artist used this composition
- Visual Analysis: Students then observe contemporary family portrait photographs, of their own families or others found in magazines or online. In addition to the differences in clothing and time period, compare the compositions, facial expressions, gestures, and body language. How do contemporary families choose to represent themselves? Are they physically close together? What is the setting? Who is present or absent; are pets or multiple generations included?
- Writing: Students choose one character, from either the Edwards family or a contemporary portrait, and write a narrative from his/her point of view (first person). How does that person feel about being in the portrait? How do they relate to other family members? How do we know (by directly referencing the image)?
- Drama / Presentation: Students gather in small groups and read their stories. In groups, they act out the family dynamics presented in the narrative. Possibilities include: a counseling session, a family meal, dramatizing the Edwards family on the terrace. What issues would emerge? Should problems be simply aired or should they be solved?
- Reflect on the process: how did it feel to put yourself in another person’s shoes? Did writing or acting provide you with an ability to see an issue or a relationship from a new perspective?