In this lesson, students create a portrait that describes their culture. Extensions for this activity include language arts and technology applications.

Creating a Living Portrait

1. A picture "frame" can easily be created in your classroom with large pieces of cardboard or a large box.

2. Students bring costumes, artifacts and representations of their culture to school and "portray" themselves inside the limits of the frame.

3. Photographs of this "living picture" can be taken with a digital camera or a 35 mm camera.

4. These photographs are then placed inside a picture frame. This frame can be as realistic as wood or printed from the patterns below on heavy paper or cardstock. Students can decorate the frame.


Download picture frames for 4 x 6 pictures as PDF documents.

Activities using this picture:

  • Other students can analyze the picture using the criteria developed and used in the previous lessons. This analysis can be oral or written.
  • An artist's statement can be created by the student portrayed and added below the portrait.
  • A short story can be written about the portrait.
  • A narrative about the portrait or a story can be audio taped.


For older students (some partial nudity is shown), the Laguna Beach Arts Festival has the Pageant of the Masters.

What is it?

    Ninety minutes of "living pictures" - incredibly faithful art re-creations of classical and contemporary works with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. An outdoor amphitheater, professional orchestra, original score, live narration, intricate sets, sophisticated lighting, expert staff, and hundreds of dedicated volunteers have won recognition for the Pageant as the best presentation of its kind.

    See Pageant of the Masters:
    Short movie clips showcase these dramatic events that use people to reproduce a painting.