Memories of a Lifetime - Romare Bearden

Elementary School, 4th grade / Art & Language Arts
Author: Jeanine Walling


Lesson Description

Student will use a variety of resources (text, art) to learn about the art of collage.  Students will use the artwork of Romare Bearden and the story “Me and Uncle Romie” by Claire Hartfield as inspiration for creation in their own collage.  The idea of memory will come into play as students reflect on fond childhood memories of their past. Students will use a variety of mediums and materials to complete their own memory collage.  Students will be able to critique each others work in positive way and display work to enhance school community.



Students will be able to
Recreate a memory using a collage technique with a variety of materials provided.
Evaluate the important influence an artist has in telling a story through the artist artwork (their eyes)
Analyze various works of art from Romare Bearden and use that information to compare and contrast their own childhood memories
Formulate their own ideas of what symbols/symbolism they can use for their collage and artwork in the future.



AR.3- - Recognize works of dance, music, theatre, and visual art as a reflection of societal values and beliefs
AR.3- - Each of the genres of visual art (e.g., realism, surrealism, abstract/nonobjective art, conceptual art, and others) is associated with appropriate vocabulary and a stylistic approach to art-making.
AR.3- - Work individually and collaboratively to create two- and three-dimensional works of art that make cohesive visual statements and that employ the elements of art and principles of design.
AR.3- - The characteristics and physical properties of the various materials available for use in art-making present infinite possibilities for potential application
AR.3- - Demonstrate how art communicates ideas about personal and social values and is inspired by an individual's imagination and frame of reference (e.g., personal, social, political, historical context.
AR.3- - Define technical proficiency, using the elements of the arts and principles of design




  • Me and Uncle Romie: A Story Inspired by the Life and Art of Romare Bearden. By Claire Hartfield   Artist  Jerome LGarrigue 
  • Music from the CD titled Romare Bearden Revealed by the Branford Marsalis Quartet or other Jazz Music 
  • Art Materials: Sketchbook or sketch paper (manila or white), Construction paper 9x12 (0r 12x18 for larger project), cardboard(optional background), magazines- people, houses, outdoors, cars, beach, etc (ask faculty or parents to donate/recycle), construction paper scraps in trays (always build up during year so save in box), stick glue, Elmer’s liquid glue, scissors, markers, colored pencils, crayons, drying rack/area, and any other collage materials(photographs, copier prints, calendars, etc), plastic bags/paper clips to keep cut objects in until glued



a form of art in which various materials such as photographs and pieces of paper or fabric are arranged and stuck to a backing. An artistic composition made of various materials (paper, cloth, or wood) glued on a surface.

the scenery or ground behind something; the part of a painting representing what lies behind objects in the foreground

Middle ground
a position midway between extreme or opposing points of view, choices, or objectives

the part of a scene or representation that is nearest to and in front of the spectator

something used for or regarded as representing something else; a material object representing something, often something immaterial; emblem, token, or sign.

The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships



Students should have previously read/or be currently reading Me and Uncle Romie by Claire Hartfield. Or at least be familiar with story and illustrations (see summary snapshot website listed above)  Romare Bearden The Dove, 1964 (NEH 17b) and any of other suggested artwork.
Questions that go along with artwork can be found in NEH picturing America book or on the NEH website. Use these to encourage students to take a closer look at image to which they will find symbols and other interesting details.


Literacy Connection
Introduce/review story and art vocabulary words (listed above). Use James collage for Uncle Romie’s Birthday and Romare Bearden artwork as an inspiration (Me and Uncle Romie)


Art Connection Activity
Create Your Own Memory Collage Inspired By Artist Romare Bearden

1. Sketch/imagination exploration- (Play Jazz Music while students work)-Students will begin by thinking about a fond memory in their childhood.  An exciting vacation, trip to grandma’s house, school field trip, anything that sparks a memory.  Then students will be given a piece of sketch paper (manila or white drawing paper or can use sketchbook if have) to sketch/think out ideas. Write words, draw picture, think of symbols of that memory.

2. Collage- Students will now have opportunity to make their memory come to life using materials provided. 
Ideas- James Collage in story, Neighborhood/Park , Vacation, Birthday/Party, Field Trip,
Magazines: Distribute a few per table and have another area available with more magazines to browse through.  Have Students careful cut around object or words they want to use. Tell them to be precise and take their time. You may want to provide students with a plastic bag to keep pieces in until glue on to collage.
Building collage-working in layers and overlapping
  (background, middle ground, foreground):


Students should work in layers starting with background first. Is there a skyline, buildings, or ocean? Cut and glue large pieces first, then work forward on artwork. Middle ground might include such objects as trees, houses, etc. Fore ground will include smaller objects such as people, birds, cars, etc. Layers may overlap one another.
Other materials: Students may wish to bring in photographs or copied pictures of themselves or family. Photocopies could be in color or black and white. Students should also be encouraged to 



Picturing America Image
Romare Bearden
The Dove, 1964 (NEH 17b)



In either art class or Reading/English students can write an essay about their memory using descriptive words to describe the elements they encountered.  Cross- curriculum work is a great way to help students gain a deeper knowledge of topics learned.



Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication does not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Arts.