Tokens of Affection Mixed Media/Collage
Classroom Activity

The objective of this project is to discover and explore the magic inside your home which exists in the form of found objects such as photos, letters, and postcards that tell your family story, and to use them in mixed media/collage form.
One class period.
Found objects such as old photos (of family), postcards from trips, and old letters; materials of various colors and textures including printed/color paper such as magazines and stamps, fabric, pastels, paint, yarn, any small objects, vinyl, and plastics; strong glue; and cardboard.
Start by discussing with the class why it is important to express oneself. Why do artists feel the need to express themselves, and how do they tell their stories and their histories through their art? Why is it so important for people to tell their own history as well as the history of their families? Next, have the students write a short description or draw a picture about a special activity or tradition they share with their families that is unique to their own family. Ask them to describe what makes those activities or traditions so special. Finally, explain to the students how artists express many of these same ideas in their art.
Mixed Media Collage
Be sure to bring your own example of a collage, making sure that it tells a history of a family. Remember, mixed media means mixed materials. Before explaining the procedure, ask the students to examine the example and to explain how they could tell that this particular work of art told a history of a family. Explain to them that that is exactly what they will be doing with their mixed-media collages: telling a history of their own.
Have the students arrange all the different textures, photos, and objects on their pieces of cardboard before starting to glue. Encourage the students to discuss their arrangements and selection of particular objects--why were certain objects, fabrics, and materials chosen to tell their family histories? Allow them to play around with their designs and to explore others. After they have decided on their final designs, have them start to glue.
Talk about their pieces and ask them to explain in more detail why they chose the particular objects they did. Ask them about composition (design)--why did they place certain objects where they did? How did the placement of the objects add to or change the piece? What do the colors represented tell us about their families and their histories?
1996, Copyright of Sofia Gutierrez

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