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A Pair, A Panel, A Presentation:
Creating an Image for Your School


In this lesson, the students will be creating a screen for the school.  The students will first study the folding screen from the exhibition.  They will work as a group to create a screen using various scenes from the school.  Once they have finished their project, they will be able to better understand why the artist chose to use the scenes from his time period.

Work of Art: Folding Screen

Subject Area: Art

Time Frame: Five to Ten Classes (45 minute periods each)

Lesson Objectives:

The students will be able to:

  • describe this work of art and the function it served in viceregal Mexico.
  • describe how works of art from Japan came to Mexico during the viceregal period and influenced art produced in Mexico.
  • create their own screen based on this form of art. As artists in colonial Mexico depicted their world, students will depict their school on their own screen.

Relevant TEKS:

Knowledge and skills. Complete TEKS for 6th grade art.

1. Perception: a. and b.
2. Creative expression/performance: a., b. and c.
3. Historical cultural heritage: a.


  • sketch paper (12x36")
  • paint, paper and brushes
  • 10 Styrofoam boards (12x36")
  • tape for hinges


1. Introducing the Work of Art

This remarkable ten-panel folding screen is decorated on one side with a panoramic view of Mexico City and on the other with episodes portraying the Spanish forces led by Hernan Cortes. Folding screens were introduced to Mexico from Japan around 1600. The Spanish and Mexican word for these screens, biombo, derives from the Japanese word byobu meaning windbreak. Placed in the parlor, or salon de estrado, of wealthy homes, screens like this served as the backdrop for social gatherings.


This screen could have served as a division in a room to provide privacy for a meeting being held by officials of the city or it may have been created for display in various places. That screens can be folded into narrow shapes makes them more portable.

Technique or Process

This ten panel screen was created in separate panels and then assembled. The canvas base for the paintings allowed the artist to paint each panel separately and then assemble the finished product by attaching the canvas panels to the ten separate wooden frames. Hinges were attached forming a flexible screen that could stand upright and be moved whenever needed.

Cultural Roots - See map

The concept of screens came from the Japanese cultures. It was one of the art forms that had been imported into the Philippines. When the Philippines fell under Spanish rule, the screens were imported from there to Mexico on the Manila Galleon.

2. Link to image on exhibition web site - Folding Screen

3. Discuss screen:

  • While viewing a large image of the screen, both front and back, discuss the function of a screen in decorating and furnishing homes in viceregal Mexico.
    • Why would someone use a screen like this in their house?
    • What purposes would it serve?
    • Where did the idea of screens originate?
    • How did the screens make it to Mexico?
  • Discuss the importance of screen's size.
    • Why would it be important for the screen to be light-weight and easily moved?
  • Discuss the scenes portrayed on each side of the screen.
    • What is the relationship of the scene of the conquest and the view of Mexico City?
    • Where does the scene of the conquest begin?
    • What did this choice of scenes mean to people living in viceregal Mexico?
  • Discuss the elements of art in the screen.
    • Name the colors, lines, shapes, and textures portrayed in the work.
    • Discuss the use of value to create contrast in both sides of the work.
    • Find examples of repetition, emphasis and balance.
    • Although the scenes are arranged out this screen out of order, what has the artist done to create a visually cohesive screen? (Consider use of semi-circular windows on each panel, choice of color.)

Art Activity

    1. Students will create their own folding screen depicting their school and people and activities around the school. Have students make sketches of the school building, people at the school and important school activities.
    2. As a class review the sketches and determine which scenes are about the outside of the school and which scenes are about activities inside. Based on sketches prepared by the students, divide the class into two groups, one responsible for each side of the screen.
    3. Working in two teams, students will plan each side of the screen. Students will consider point of view in their compositions. They will sketch their designs onto ten pieces of paper, each 12 x 36 inches.
    4. Each group will present its sketches to the entire class for discussion and final approval before the painting begins. Students will then paint their panels.
    5. Students will construct a folding screen from Styrofoam sheets cut into 12x36 inch pieces. Students will attach paintings to the Styrofoam panels. When the panels are hinged with tape, they will be light weight, able to be folded and portable.
    6. The students will compare their work of art with the folding screen from the exhibition.
      • What was the relevance of the scenes you chose from your school?
      • What influenced your decision?
      • How did you choose to represent these scenes?
      • Why did the artist choose to use the two scenes together on one screen?
      • What do you think the artist was trying to accomplish?
      • Does your screen accomplish what you have intended it to say?

Evaluation Procedure:

  • Students will discuss their work of art and how they met the lesson objectives. Students could also write about their work of art and how it relates to the folding screen from viceregal Mexico.
  • The successfully completed screen will show the students observations of the school building and events and settings and people within the school. All students will have made a contribution to the finished screen and the entire design will be organized to achieve unity of composition through choice of elements of art: color, line, shape, texture, and value and principles of art such movement, balance and symmetry.
  • See assessment matrix.

Extension Activities:

Math: Learning to draw in scale
Language Arts: Writing descriptive paragraphs.
Social Studies, History: Researching the history of the story depicted on the screen.
Social Studies, Geography: Find setting on map, research names of rivers, lakes, mountains depicted on the screen.
Science: Learn about the flora and fauna from this area of Mexico and how it affected development in the area (lumber and food sources).

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