Assemble a Story: Narrative Art | Hunter Museum of American Art 7.0.33-0+deb9u10

Assemble a Story: Narrative Art

Explore how images and words contribute to the meaning of a story.

GRADES K-5

This lesson can be adapted to suit different grade and skill levels.

English Language Arts

RL. KID: Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
Rl. IKI:  Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

GOALS

Students will be able to: 

  • Identify the elements of a story
  • Discuss how images and words create meaning in a text
  • Write a story about an artwork
  • Create a collage that tells a story

ARTWORK

Iruka Maria Toro. The Invisible Life of Small Things, 2011

Iruka Maria Toro is an American artist who creates colorful paintings and collages about her life. These artworks often explore events from her childhood in Puerto Rico, where she spent much of her time caring for exotic pets and visiting the island’s rainforests. When she was ten years old, Toro and her family moved to southern Florida. As a child, Toro liked exploring her new home’s swampy landscapes and native wildlife. 

The Invisible Life of Small Things shows the artist diving from the sky into a dreamlike underwater world. According to Toro, this painting depicts her thoughts and experiences during the first year of her marriage while living in rural upstate New York. Although this artwork was painted, Toro was influenced by collage and mimicked the layered style of collage in her painting.

IMAGE CREDIT: Iruka Maria Toro. The Invisible Life of Small Things, 2011, Acrylic paint. Museum Purchase: Funds provided by an Anonymous Donor. 2013.56. Collection of The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC. © Iruka Maria Toro.

VOCABULARY

Collage – cutting and gluing different images in an artwork
Story – a description of real or imaginary people and events
Plot – the events that happen in a story
Setting – the place where a story happens
Characters – the people or animals in a story
Mood – how a story or artwork makes you feel
Narrative Art – art that tells a story

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Look closely. What do you notice?
  • What do you think is happening?
  • What do you think the person in the painting is doing?
  • How do you think this person feels? 
  • What animals can you see? 
  • Where do you think this takes place?

ACTIVITY SUGGESTIONS

Activity #1

Students will write and illustrate a short story based on Iruka Maria Toro’s Invisible Life of Small Things.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Review the elements of a story before showing Iruka Maria Toro’s Invisible Life of Small Things. Discuss how Toro’s paintings often depict stories from her life.
  2. Have students look for visual clues in the painting that can help them determine what is happening. You can use the discussion questions to encourage conversation and close looking.
  3. Once students have had the opportunity to talk about the painting, have them write a story. Students should write a story based on the figure in their painting. Their story should describe who the figure is, what the figure is doing, where the figure is, and what is transpiring in the painting. Students can be as creative or imaginative in their story as they like as there is no single correct interpretation of an artwork.
  4. Have students make an illustration to accompany the story. This drawing should depict an important event from their tale. 
MATERIALS

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Crayons, Markers, or Colored Pencils

Activity #2

Students will create a collage depicting important events from a story they read in class. Students should think about how images help us understand stories.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Review the elements of a story before showing Iruka Maria Toro’s Invisible Life of Small Things. Discuss how Toro’s paintings often depict stories from her life.
  2. Have students look for visual clues in the painting that can help them determine what is happening. You can use the discussion questions to encourage conversation and close looking.
  3. Discuss how this picture might help us learn more about Toro’s life. Explore how pictures in storybooks also help us learn more about a story. Ask students what can be learned from the pictures? What can pictures tell us about a character in a story?
  4. Read a story to the students or have them read a story independently.
  5. Encourage students to pick their favorite part of the story they read.
  6. Using pre-cut images from magazines, ask students to create a collage about this event in the story on a sheet of paper. They can add details with markers. Their collage should depict the characters and setting of the story.
MATERIALS

  • A Story/Narrative
  • Construction or Manilla Paper
  • Markers
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue Sticks
  • Old Magazines
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