From Question into Monologue

From Question into Monologue

Artworks can offer the opportunity to consider things from a different perspective. Artists are intentional about how to depict people alone or in groups. Spending time to look carefully at the expressions, body language, and contextual clues in figural artworks can help students consider ideas about identity, community, and belonging.

Grade Level:
Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
African American Art, African Art, American Art, Ancient Art, European Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, Photography, South Asian Art
Africa, America, Europe
Subject Area:
Communication, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, English, Fine Arts, History and Social Science, Visual Arts
Activity Type:
Distance Learning, Lesson Concept

From Question into Monologue


  • Students will use both creative and critical thinking as they engage with a work of figural art.
  • Students will document their responses to the ideas presented by a work of figural art and generate a monologue based on those responses.


Adjust this activity in whatever way makes sense for your classroom. The instructions below are merely an outline for students to document their thinking.

Invite students to use the steps below to spend at least 10-15 minutes with a work of art, challenging them to work to creatively document the ideas it presents to them.

Ask them to refrain from reading information about the art until they have completed the activity and reflected on their own creative process.

Choose from the objects below or visit the VMFA Collections page to search for other possibilities:

Invite students to look closely at a work of art and consider the following:

Visual Inventory
  • Observe the artwork even more closely
  • Make a list of everything you observe in the piece
  • Try not to judge your observations – no observation is too simple or too small
3 Questions
  • With all your observations in mind, write down three questions you have about this artwork.
Write a Monologue
  • If the artwork contains multiple individuals, choose one to focus on for the remainder of the activity.
  • Now choose one of your three questions to focus on.
  • Imagine transporting yourself into the world of the artwork and into the mind  of your chosen individual.
  • Through this person’s perspective, write a short monologue that grapples with your chosen question – so solving the question becomes the conflict of the monologue.
  • Maybe your individual finds an answer to the question, maybe they don’t, but they have to deal with the question in some way.
  • Don’t forget about your visual inventory – it can offer you clues and specifics that will help with your monologue.
  • Share your  monologue and your thinking with a group. 
  • What was the question that you focused on?
  • What details from the artwork helped you write the monologue?
  • What did you discover about this individual and the piece through writing the monologue?