Self Portrait by Theoung Mim

Art Analysis

©1996-2013
womeninworldhistory.com


Objectives:

 •  to consider identity issues of immigrants

 •  to build empathy by understanding effects when individuals are forced to set themselves apart from others. (What might be like to be treated differently because of an aspect of physical appearance)?

Mim was born in Cambodia but came to U.S. in 1980, as part of the waves of immigrants to California from Asian nations of Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.


“Being a Cambodian woman means having to maintain two identities.
One is my parents’ expectations and the other is who I really am. My
painting depicts these two sides, which are sometimes hard to blend.”
- Theoung Mim


1)  Ask students:

 •  Raise hands if any of you have grandparents who were born outside of.... Were you?

 •  Does anyone speak more than one language at home? (what?)


 2)  Show artist’s portrait and read her comment:

Explain: Identity can mean all of the things that go into making a person - the country they are from, their race, their culture, the languages that they speak, the things they like to do, their job, and so on.


 3)  Discuss image:

• How does Theoung Mim represent her multiple identities in this image?

• What do you notice about the face she paints?

• Which part of the portrait do you think represents Mim’s parents’ expectations? Which part represents her?

• Do any of you ever feel like you have two identities? Why?


 4)  Follow up activity: Think about how you might represent yourself in a self-portrait like Theoung Mim. You might include something related to something about yourself that others may not know.
 5)  Hand out a rough outline of a face and ask students to create a self-portrait. You might encourage students to fold the paper into four (like Mim’s self-portrait) to represent four aspects of themselves.

Link Back to the Essay:  Crossing Cultural Borders

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Women in World History Curriculum