Art and Creative Writing


Visual Arts and Writing What is your response to a work of art? How can I best express that response in words?

Performance objective

Students will analyze slides of artifacts as cultural and social representations. Students will utilize the writing process to create a word map and creative writing sample using standard written language conventions.


• Butcher Paper (6” x 9” piece for each student)
• Crayons or markers
• Images from slideshow or for overhead projector
• Pencils
• Unlined paper


Students will generate a word map and creative writing sample from the images in the Rockefeller Collection slide packet.


  1. Focus on one of the paintings (or the screen). Have students generate their own drawing, based on the chosen picture, on a piece butcher paper. Brainstorm ideas for that someone might find helpful in understanding this picture. Have students include a title or brief statement that indicates what is being illustrated. Post the pictures and discuss them with the entire class.
  2. Using a figural object, have the students consider the following ques tions before generating their own fictional writing piece featuring the character in the slide. Who is the person? Where is he/she from? (Show students a map of Asia.) What is he doing? Why is he dressed like this? Generate a list of words to describe the image.

Art Objects from the Indian Subcontinent

Slide: Shiva as Lord of the Dance
• What adjective would describe the expression on his face?
• If you had six arms, like he does, what would you have in each (use one or two words for each)?

Slide: Ganesha
• What name would you give to this being?
• What name would you give to the dance he is doing?

Art Objects from China

Slide: Platter
• What was put on this plate?

Slide: Temple on a Mountain Ledge
• You are at this place. Describe where you would choose to be in less than five words.
• What could you see if you were standing at the top of the highest mountain looking away from this scene?

Art Objects from Japan

Slide: Pheasants Under Cherry and Willow Trees
• What two adjectives would describe this scene?
• If you were in this place, how would you feel?

Slide: Nakamura Komozo as the Boatman Kanagawaya No Gros and Nakajima Wadamon as “Dried Codfish” Chozaemon
• What did the one man say to the other?
• What word describes the man in gray’s facial expression?

Be creative and make up prompts based on the background material in the packet.

Extension One

  1. Hand out unlined paper and a pencil to each student. Explain to them that you will be showing a series of slides. For each slide, you will ask them to jot down responses to a phrase or question. The responses should not be made in a list—spread them around the paper as a collage of words that can act as a story starter later. Slides could be shown from a few seconds to a minute, it is important for students to write the first ideas that come to mind. Impress on students that there are no “wrong” responses. The word map will act as a writing tool for a story or poem later. 
  2. Show slides one by one. For each slide, teacher will develop a set of short prompts, one for each slide and read each allowing at least five seconds for each response. Have students generate word maps as you read the prompts. Do NOT simply read the descriptions of the artifacts to the students. 
  3. Ask students to use their word maps to generate a poem or short story based on one or more of the word prompts and the slides that were shown. 
  4. When students have completed writing, have them share the products with the class.

Extention Two

The students have given the objects an individual story or “history” in their writing accounts. Have the students investigate the “real history” by writing on one of the artifacts or about the time and place in which the object originated. Report findings to the class.