Activities
Group Portrait

Jamel Shabazz’s portrait is of a group of young men in in front of a hat shop in 1980. In an email about an MTV interview, Shabazz said: “. . .we made do with what we had. . .Many of us were self-styled and we took great pride in being original; never really wanting to look like the next person.” http://www.mtv.com/news/2519401/jamel-shabazz-photographer-interview/

a. With your students, view and discuss Shabazz’s portrait and his quotation about the notion of style—it’s not what you wear, but how you wear it.

b. Discuss what setting and people might represent a collective sense of students’ neighborhoods today.

Who would students choose to be in a neighborhood group portrait?

Would they include themselves in the picture?

Where would they take the photograph?

What would they want in the background?

What would they wear?

How would they pose?

What might their facial expressions be?

c. Have students work in small groups to create group portraits. Younger students can create their portraits in their school. Older students can do a walking tour of their school neighborhood. Ask students to think about the accessories they might use to make a statement about contemporary style. For example, headphones, sneakers, jewelry, caps, glasses, lunchboxes, or backpacks.

d. View and discuss students’ group portraits. What is their collective view of their school environment or neighborhood? What is their collective style? Are there particular colors, fashions, or trends that stand out?

 

 

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Arthur and Susan Fleischer