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TeachNet NYC  |  Lesson Plans  |  Teachnet
So, So Surreal Self-Portraits


Take your class on a virtual trip back in time, to 1924, when a Dada manifesto sparks the surrealist movement in Europe and United States.  Using digital media, students will create their own surreal self-portraits.

Session 1-

Start the process with a brainstorm/list about the meaning of the word “surreal” and what an “ism” is. (Where have you heard of “isms” before? Possible answers: communism, socialism.)

Using the So, So, Surreal Worksheet (attached), students working individually or in small groups will:

 • go to the Webmuseum of Paris for an overview of the history of Surrealism.

 • become critical viewers at a small virtual gallery of artwork by a number of noted surrealist painters at http://mcs.csuhayward.edu/~malek/Surrealism/

• See the work of contemporary surrealist artists at http://surrealism.co.uk/

The class discusses the “dream like” qualities of surrealism and its influence on contemporary art, design and entertainment.

The class is introduced to its task: create a surreal image of and/or about yourself in the world of art or entertainment. For example, you might place yourself within a painting by a surreal artist or in concert with your favorite band.

In pairs, students use a digital camera to take self-portraits in a “pose” they would like to use for their So So Surreal Self-Portraits.

HW: Write at least two paragraphs describing what you want your surreal portrait to represent about you. Make a sketch of proposed “So, So Surreal Self-Portrait”.

Session 2-

Teacher Preparation:  Download digital portraits taken with the camera into a common accessible folder on the network or at individual computer stations. 

 Using the homework as reference, each student writes a list of key words that will help them find images and information to composite with their digital photograph.

Depending on technical ability of students, teacher may need to demonstrate how to download images from the Internet and how to Photoshop or another imaging program to composite and alter images.  The layering effect in Photoshop will also be useful.

HW: Write an artist’s statement to accompany your So, So Surreal self-portrait.

Session 3-

Students complete their So, So Surreal Self-Portrait and word process their artist’s statement. The images need to be saved in .jpg or .gif file format for exhibiting on the WWW.

Follow up activities: Print out So So Surreal Self-Portraits with statements and exhibit on bulletin board. Exhibit work on a class or school web site.  See our site: http://thebleedingedge.org/features/surreal_gallery2/index.htm


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