African Animal Personification
Drawing, wax resist, painting and digital photography
What African animal are you most like and why? As part of an around the world art lesson series, students answered these questions and determined an animal with which they shared a common trait. Assigning animals human traits is known as animal personification. Humanizing animals helps us to empathize with them. Mixing animal and human forms, called hybrids, has been done by artists since ancient times in places such as Assyria, Egypt, India and South America and continues today with works created by Jane Alexander of South Africa, Yago Portal of Spain, Christof Meyer of Vienna and Aiko Fukawa of Japan. Students viewed these works prior to developing their own hybrid portraits. They drew their animals loosely with fat oil crayons by observing source materials. Washes were added to the drawings. Students observed how the watercolor bled off the oil crayon, a process known as wax resistance. Each student was encouraged to paint with their favorite colors, not necessarily the animal’s true colors, to inject more of their personality into the portrait. When the paintings were completed, students posed with them in front of their faces, while a peer digitally photographed them, gaining practice in mixing traditional media with digital technology. In an art exhibition, the hybrid images were placed on a continuous video loop and projected onto the wall, along with the paintings and student quotes.