Kandinsky: Exploring Symbolism

Have students select an object from home (e.g., their backpack, toy, clothing) that they feel best represents them. Encourage them to share with a partner why they selected the object. For example, a favorite ring might shine like one’s personality.

Ask your students to find an image to serve as a symbol for their object. Suggest cutting pictures from magazines or printing pages from the Internet. For the example used above, a circle might represent the ring. Why did they select this image as a symbol? Is there another object that communicates the same idea? Place each student’s chosen symbol into a class collage. Use this as a foundation for exploring symbols in art.

Extend the activity by asking your students to collect examples of other objects or images, such as in advertisements, that represent and signify something else. For instance, the Burke Brise Soleil (or wings) of the Milwaukee Art Museum is used as a symbol of the city. Together as a class, categorize the images into like groups.