Decapitated heads and amputated limbs… Have I found the perfect artwork to introduce art analysis?

If you don’t already know Camille Rose Garcia she’s a fantastic Los Angeles based painter/illustrator. Students are instantly drawn to her creepy, nightmarish worlds adorned with scary/cute characters that somehow look familiar to them (they are based on Disney characters). Amputated limbs and decapitated heads sit along side super cute ribbons and rabbits – students love it! My deepest apologies Mr Rauschenberg and Señiorita Kahlo you don’t quite capture the attention of my students at the moment, in time you will, but for now Ms Garcia is lighting the way for our art analysis and interpretation.

snow white and the black lagoon

Through a series of group activities I guide my students through a four step process of: 1. Initial Reaction 2. Description 3. Analyse 4. Judge & Evaluate (thanks to this wonderful ANALYSING AN IMAGE document made by Frank Curkovic).

By the time the students reach the judge and evaluate stage they are describing the work as being a commentary on a toxic/polluted environment with the witch being the antagonist in the narrative. The one who has caused suffering.

When we reach this point I have the students read an extract from an interview found here:

“I started it last year during the Gulf Oil spill and I wanted to do a re-telling of Snow White combined with the ecological disaster going on there. The fairytales of Grimm always talked about people that lived in forest that were very close to nature and their environment…I wanted to use the symbolism of things like the evil Queen to represent the evil empire and capitalism; and the white animals and Snow White representing the purity of nature – something precious to be protected. Of course, there’s the battle of good and evil.”

The reaction is priceless. I’ve got them hooked.

ESL friendly art vocabulary

My new grade 10 class are all ESL to some degree. I have complete beginners and advanced… there lies my challenge! How do I help my students use the correct subject specific terminology in their artwork analysis? (which is a whole criteria in itself for DP art). I made this document Prior Knowledge – Art Vocabulary and assured them it was not a test just a “this is going to help me help you”.


After going through all the documents I used the students own language (with some adjustments) to make a list which I hope will be ESL friendly.  Here it is: Grade 10 Prior Knowledge – Art Vocabulary ANSWERS. What do you think of this list? Would it work for your students? The real test will be when they begin their analysis next week, wish me luck!

Helping Grade 7 ESL students Analyse Artwork

We have an excellent ESL programme here at BISS, every teacher works incredibly hard to get complicated content and concepts across to our students. For me, the hardest part is the terminology required for analysing artwork. Google translate cannot translate grid and mixed media into an art context so I try a variety of ways to help students but today’s differentiation idea worked! Hoorah! I made this task sheet (KUSHNER group research page) for students to work on in pairs. I paired the students; an ESL student with either a native speaker or someone whose language ability is higher. Before they set to work I gathered the students around in a big group and together (with a lot of questioning, hand movements and drawing across Robert Kushner’s artwork with red markers) we ended up with the orange chart below. The student’s referred to this as they started their analysis. You can see from the examples below the students definitely have an understanding of the pictorial devices used in Kushner’s work. The next test of my differentiation will be seeing if they continue to use these key words and concepts in their annotated notes and reflections. I hope so! Watch this space… have you had successes in teaching artwork analysis to ESL students? I would love to have some more ideas.