Art Lesson Plan: Romare Bearden Collage - Montage

Romare Bearden Collage

Submitted by: Lydia Horvath, Alliance Academy of Toledo, Ohio
Unit: Collage - African American Art
Lesson Title: Romare Bearden/ Martin Luther King
Level: High School (Adaptable to middle school)


Content Standards:

  • Explain how and why visual art forms develop in the contexts (e.g., cultural, social, historical and political) in which they were made.

  • Select a culture and create an original work of art that demonstrates understanding of a historical, social or political issue of the culture.

  • Create expressive artworks that demonstrate a sense of purpose and understanding of the relationship among form, materials, techniques, and subject matter.

  • Critique their own works, the works of peers and other artists on the basis of the formal, technical and expressive aspects in the works.

bearden picture      bearden picture
Click images for larger views


Objectives: Students will

  • Become familiar with the collage methods of Romare Bearden - discuss meaning in his work.

  • Make a collage with social/political comment

Terms and Vocabulary:

Collage, political, foreground, background, photo-montage



Romare Bearden: Visual Jazz [VHS]. - See also the DVD, Dropping in on Romare Bearden.

Martin Luther King. Jr. quotes



From Process to Print: Graphic Works by Romare Bearden. - More than seventy-five full-color reproductions demonstrate Bearden's printmaking process as he worked and reworked particular images, themes, and techniques; illuminate how his thinking and approaches were shaped through collaborations with master printmakers.

Romare Bearden: His Life and Art. - This book is a fantastic source of information, both written and visual, on one of our country's most underrated and neglected artists.



The Art of Romare Bearden: A Book of Postcards. - The works reproduced in this book offer a glimpse of the remarkable art that arose from that passion. Contains 30 oversized color postcards. Size: 4 3/4 x 6 7/8" (12 x 17 cm). These cards can be passed out among the class at the beginning of the lesson.



Posterboard. cut to desired size; magazines/newspapers; variety of scrap papers; envelopes to keep cut images in; Martin Luther King quotations, printed out and cut into separate quotes; Scissors. and White Glue..



1. Students discuss the life and art of Romare Bearden, and look at a variety of examples of his artwork (especially photo-montage work from the 1960’s); his work with the Spiral group during the Civil Rights Era, and the political content of his work, is to be particularly emphasized.


Print examples

2. Students choose a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote; they must make sure they understand the meaning of the quote (some are more difficult than others!). They then list at least 5 objects/images that could represent the quote, and decide what type of setting the collage will have (i.e. city, country, interior, etc.).

3. Students create a thumbnail sketch of the planned layout of their collage.

4. Students begin searching through magazines and newspapers to find their images. They will usually need reminders about cutting images around the edge, eliminating the original background, so they can become part of a new context. Images can be stored in envelopes until needed.

5. Once they have a good amount of images, students can start the collage by creating the background. Glue must be applied right up to the edge of images, to reduce "fly-away" pieces. Students can turn the cut-out upside down on scrap paper, and use a small piece of poster board or other thin cardboard to "scrape" the glue all the way to the edges. Once the background is complete, they should begin arranging and gluing the images in the foreground. Emphasize mixing of individual images, especially figures/faces! Remind students that if a particular image cannot be found, they can always make it from cut plain paper.

6. When the collage is complete, students should go through the entire collage, and make sure all edges are completely glued down. A small paintbrush with glue works well for this. Lift loose edges and apply glue with small brush.

7. When the collage is complete, students fill out their self-assessment form (this is a Publisher file - alternate Rubric below).

8. A group critique can be held to discuss craftsmanship, creation of foreground/background, and the how well each collage represented the quote chosen.


Assessment Rubric: (adapted from Marianne Galyk)


Assessment Rubric

Student Name:

Class Period:

Assignment: Romare Beardon/Martin Luther King, Jr. Collage

Date Completed:

Circle the number in pencil that best shows how well you feel that you completed that criterion for the assignment.




Needs Improvement

Rate Yourself

Teacher’s Rating

Criteria 1 – Planning sketches - Brainstorming.


9 – 8


6 or less

Criteria 2 – Overall Design of collage - use of elements and principles of design


9 – 8


6 or less

Criteria 3 – Communication of desired quote.


9 – 8


6 or less

Criteria 4 – Effort: took time to develop idea & complete project? (Didn’t rush.) Good use of class time?


9 – 8


6 or less

Criteria 5 – Craftsmanship – Neat, clean & complete? Skillful use of the art tools & media?


9 – 8


6 or less

Total: 50
x 2 = 100
(possible points)


Your Total

Teacher Total


Student Comments:


Teacher Comments:


National Standards (Standards covered depend on class discussion and reflection writing)


1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

2. Using knowledge of structures and functions

3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

4. Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

5. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

6. Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines

(Social studies)

Students apply media, techniques, and processes with sufficient skill, confidence, and sensitivity that their intentions are carried out in their artworks

Students demonstrate the ability to form and defend judgments about the characteristics and structures to accomplish commercial, personal, communal, or other purposes of art

Students reflect on how artworks differ visually, spatially, temporally, and functionally, and describe how these are related to history and culture


Students identify intentions of those creating artworks, explore the implications of various purposes, and justify their analyses of purposes in particular works


Students conceive and create works of visual art that demonstrate an understanding of how the communication of their ideas relates to the media, techniques, and processes they use

Students evaluate the effectiveness of artworks in terms of organizational structures and functions

Students apply subjects, symbols, and ideas in their artworks and use the skills gained to solve problems in daily life


Students describe meanings of artworks by analyzing how specific works are created and how they relate to historical and cultural contexts

Students compare characteristics of visual arts within a particular historical period or style with ideas, issues, or themes in the humanities or sciences


Students create artworks that use organizational principles and functions to solve specific visual arts problems

(Advanced) Students describe the origins of specific images and ideas and explain why they are of value in their artwork and in the work of others

Students analyze relationships of works of art to one another in terms of history, aesthetics, and culture, justifying conclusions made in the analysis and using such conclusions to inform their own art making

Students reflect analytically on various interpretations as a means for understanding and evaluating works of visual art

(Advanced) Students synthesize the creative and analytical principles and techniques of the visual arts and selected other arts disciplines, the humanities, or the sciences



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