Artist Hugo Crosthwaite is the winner of the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the National Portait Gallery in Washington, DC. Crosthwaite lives in San Diego, California and was born just on the other side of the U.S./Mexican border in Tijuana, Mexico. Below is a portrait he created of Berenice Sarmiento Chávez. It is part of a series he is creating about people passing through Tijuana. The National Portrait Gallery Describes the piece this way,”Set to the soundtrack of a dissonant guitar and a raspy voice singing in Spanish, this animated video reveals the dreams and experiences of a young woman from Tijuana who seeks to take part in the American Dream.”

To learn more about the work, listen to the following interview with Hugo Crosthwaite from the Portraits podcast produced by the Smithsonian Institution.

Teaching Ideas

Before viewing the video discuss the meaning of a portrait. What is a portrait? How is it similar to a story? What are some of the differences?

Show the three miniute video portrait. As students watch, consider asking them to take notes using the protocol from Project Zero’s See-Feel-Think-Wonder Thinking Routine. What do they see? What are they feeling? What are they thinking? What are they wondering? Use those observations as a basic for conversation.

To continue the lesson, you might introduce the podcast and listen to the interview with the artist.  Below couple of points that come from the interview that you might consider discussion.

  • How does the artists choice to animate the drawings influence your understanding of the piece?
  • How does your understanding of the subject change as the images evolve, new details are added, and others are erased?
  • The artist suggests that he isn’t sure if everything the subject told him is true. How does that impact your responses to the piece?

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