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Museum Home Education Planning a School Visit Visit Activities
Art Inspired by Words

Grades/Level: Middle School (6–8), High School (9–12)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts
Time Required: Short Activity
20 minutes
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

Activity Overview

Works of art can be inspired by literature and artists can interpret and visually imagine the same passage in different ways. Students will each create a sketch on a single literary passage and then compare their work.

Learning Objectives

Students should be able to:
• interpret a literary passage as a visual sketch.
• discuss how artists can interpret the same literary passage in different ways.


• a passage from a literary work your students are reading in class
• paper and drawing materials

Activity Steps

Step 1: Ask students to recall one work of art that they remember from their visit to the Getty Center. What was its connection to literature? Have a discussion about other ways the artists could have depicted then same subject. Talk about how there are many ways to visually interpret the same story or idea.

Step 2: Choose a passage from a work of literature your students are reading or have read in your class. The passage will serve as the inspiration for this art-making activity.

Step 3: Direct students to the passage in their books (or write it on the board). Read the passage out loud and tell your students that they are going to make a work of art inspired by this passage. Before they begin, ask each student to write down three words that come to mind then they read the passage. Have students share their responses as a group and make a list on the board. Discuss how the passage evoked different responses and how, like artists, they interpreted the same literary work in many ways.

Step 4: Give students paper and drawing materials. Ask them to sketch their ideas for a work of art based on the passage. Remind students that a sketch is a quick preparatory drawing used to help artists to record their initial ideas; their piece will not be a finished work of art and it does not need to be perfect. They can both draw and write on their paper to capture their ideas.

Step 5: After students are done, ask them to share their sketches with the class. Discuss and reflect on how many different ideas were inspired by the same work of literature.

Abduction of Europa / Rembrandt van Rijn
The Abduction of Europa, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

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