Finding Heroes in Fine Art
by Jerrilyn Jacobs, Taft High School

Subject Area:   Art, Language Arts

Grade level:    4-8, 9-12. college, adults; adaptable for younger children using art selected by the teacher


Students will search Internet sites for pictures of heroes and heroic action, sharing what they find for a class discussion on how heroes have been portrayed throughout time.


Students will identify what kind of characters and actions or situations would qualify as heroic.

Students will use Internet skills to find images of heroes and heroic action.

Through oral and written expression, students will share their thoughts about how art portrays heroes.

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Enough computers with Internet connection and the ability to print Web pages for students in your class.

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Activities and Procedures:

Step One: How do you recognize a hero by looking at him or her?

As a class, discuss characteristics of a hero and how these characteristics are visible in ACTION. What other visual element, other than the hero, needs to be in the picture if we are to understand that the person is a hero? What heroes would we recognize, without any supporting visual information, because their image alone reminds us of their heroic action? They almost represent some heroic action, such as Gandhi spinning wool as a symbol of peaceful resistance and home rule.

Log on to the MY HERO Website,, and identify heroes who might be the subject of artwork. Look at images that accompany hero stories for any visual heroic action.

The teacher can limit the media to fine arts, or include all forms of two-dimensional art.

Sculpture can be included, or have its own lesson.

Individual students should brainstorm additional heroes they think will be found in art.

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Step Two: The Search is On

Using Internet search engines (especially sites such as Google which have a separate search engine for images), museum and art Internet sites, individual students search for images of heroic action.

Have students record the name and URL of every art site they visited to be turned in for part of their grade.

When a heroic image is found, print a copy and include credits to identify the artist, name of the image, and Website. On the back of each image, the student writes a brief analysis of what is happening in the picture and why the character’s actions can be considered heroic.

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Step Three: Show and Tell

Students present their images to the class and read what they have written. The class responds with comments and questions.

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Students will turn in and be graded on the list of art Websites they visited, and the images they copied. You may set a minimum number of images as a requirement. The grade will also include analysis of the student’s writing for content and conforming to the conventions of usage.

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Created by Jerrilyn Jacobs, Curriculum Consultant