Discovering Culture Through Collage: Romare Bearden

Exploring multicultural art exposes children to cultural differences in a creative context.  A multicultural art-inspired crafting session is also fertile ground for a history lesson!

This week we created collage art inspired by our recent visit to the Romare Bearden (1911-1988) collection currently being exhibited at Tampa Museum of Art.

Here the boys peruse photos in a Bearden collection book and compare the artist’s pieces displayed upon the surrounding museum walls–

Bearden was an African-American painter who incorporated pieces of photographs, newspaper clippings, foil and colored paper into his pieces.  Many considered him the country’s foremost collagist.

The artist used collage to express his thoughts and memories of growing up in the American South and Old Harlem during its renaissance.  His style was also shaped by Western European art, African sculpture, contemporary American and Mexican artists.  Music, particularly blues and jazz, also inspired his art.

To create collages at home, grab some old magazines and newspapers, as well as other art supplies such as scissors, craft paper, coffee cup sleeves, glue, glitter and markers.  You will also need a piece of heavy paper or cardboard as a base.

Next, show your child images of works by Bearden or other collagists.  Discuss the themes of these collages, as well. 

Let your child create their own collage theme based upon their interests or, for example, a recent visit to the park, beach or playground.  

Then, let them start cutting and pasting! 

Encourage the mixing of media forms to achieve the abstract look by layering different shapes, textures and colors.  

Here is a photo of my son’s ocean-themed collage.  Look closely to see if you can you find the magazine photo of a shark and a newspaper illustration of a shrimp!  

While you let the collage dry, check out the National Gallery of Art’s Children’s Guide for the Art of Romare Bearden.  The guide is designed to introduce children ages 8 and up to Bearden’s life and the historical events which influenced his works.   

To further explore Bearden’s life, check out this list of children’s books about the artist.

Happy collaging!



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3 Responses to Discovering Culture Through Collage: Romare Bearden

  1. Love Romare Bearden – he’s a great artist and a nice way to get your children excited about art too!

  2. Jill says:

    I agree -and with collaging the kids really take pleasure in the fact that they can use the same simple cut-and-paste techniques to create their art which was used by famous and prolific artists like Bearden.

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