I have finally begun working on my art programmes for this term, after a very long break from teaching over the summer holidays. I stumbled upon the idea of creating ‘anthrophomorpic portraits’, which led me to explore the concept of human-like animals in art and literature in general. The initial idea sprung from funky yet comical portraits by photographer, Yago Partal (right).
My idea is to get students to choose an animal, brainstorm what kind of clothing they will wear and create anthropomorphic portraits using paint or watercolour.
This project links really well into art history. The word ‘anthropomorphic’ simply means attributing human qualities to non human subjects; be it animals, forces of nature, plants or insects.
Humans have a long history of using animals to express personality traits, supernatural abilities, describe the attributes of mythical deities (such as the case in Greek mythology).
Examples of anthropomorphic art and literature popular in today’s culture is overwhelmingly rich. Think teenage mutant ninja turtles, superheroes like Spider-Man and batman, stories like C.S Lewis’ ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’, Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’and Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. All of these tales use personification of animals, insects and in the case of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, inanimate objects (remember the talking door and the opinionated flowers?) Examples abound across cultures, too. In aboriginal dreamtime stories and fables from Korea and Japan (not to mention anime-a big obsession with my year 6 group).
I’m excited to see what my talented students come up with on this theme.