Grades/Level: Lower Elementary (K–2), Upper Elementary (3–5), Middle School (6–8), High School (9–12), Adult Learners
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts, ESL
Time Required: Single Class Lesson
1-hour class period
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

Language through Art Contents

Curriculum Home
Lesson Plans
Image Bank
Art Vocabulary (PDF, 3MB)

Lesson Overview

This lesson focuses on artworks that depict things people wear. Students will build vocabulary and enhance language arts skills while learning about different media (painting and photography). Activities emphasize descriptions using adjectives—through discussions about the clothing people are wearing in the featured works of art.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• orally identify basic clothing worn by people in a work of art.
• use adjectives in sentences to describe the clothing worn by the figures.


• Reproduction of Burroughs Family, Hale County, Alabama by Walker Evans
• Information for Teaching about Burroughs Family, Hale County, Alabama by Walker Evans
• Information for Teaching about La Promenade by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
• Information for Teaching about Jeanne Kéfer by Fernand Khnopff
• Information for Teaching about Ybor City, Florida by Mitch Epstein
• Teacher Resource: "Art Vocabulary"
• Student Handout: "What to Wear?"
• Paper and pencils

Lesson Steps

1. Begin by asking students to name some of the clothing they are wearing. Generate a class list of the clothing items and write the words on the board. Introduce new vocabulary as appropriate.

2. Show students the image of Burroughs Family, Hale County, Alabama. (See the Information for Teaching about Burroughs Family, Hale County, Alabama by Walker Evans.) Lead a class discussion analyzing the photograph by discussing the following:
• Describe the people in the photograph.
• What do you think their relationship is?
• Inform students that in this picture the artist Walker Evans photographed the family as they wanted to be seen, dressed in their best clothing.

3. Using the class-generated list from step 1, ask students to identify the clothing shown in the photograph. Point to the clothing in the image as students respond. Ask students follow-up questions such as:
• Do you like his/her _______________?
• Do you wear _______________?
• Do people wear _______________ today?

4. Next, introduce the Art Vocabulary word medium and review the word painting. Pass out the "What to Wear?" handout, briefly discussing each work of art, when it was made, and the different media each of the artists used (Renoir and Khnopff made their paintings in the 1800s; Epstein made his photograph in the 1900s). (See the Information for Teaching PDFs about La Promenade by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jeanne Kéfer by Fernand Khnopff, and Ybor City, Florida by Mitch Epstein.)

5. Have students identify clothing worn by each of the figures in the works of art by completing the "What to Wear?" handout.

6. Ask volunteers to share some of their responses from the "What to Wear?" handout. Discuss how the clothing styles depicted in the different images have changed over time (i.e., the clothing in the paintings is from an earlier time period than the clothing in the photograph).

Burroughs Family/Evans
Burroughs Family, Hale County, Alabama, Walker Evans, 1936


  • Inform students that Mitch Epstein liked Walker Evans and his photographs. Using a Venn diagram, have students compare and contrast the two families in the photographs.

  • Ask students to consider: What do you wear when someone takes your picture? What is your favorite clothing? Describe orally what you wear, using the following sentence frame: My favorite thing(s) to wear is/are my
    _____[adjective]_____ _____[clothing]_____.