Artists are intentional when they pose the people in their artwork. Sometimes just by mimicking the poses, viewers can begin to understand more about the art even before getting any additional information.
Ask students to do the following with a chosen work of figural art:
Without looking at the label, study the gestures and body language of a figure you see. Carefully move your body and adjust your facial expression to match that of the figure. What does doing this tell you about what the figure may be thinking or feeling?
Now look at the label, and compare your ideas to what is there.
What makes sense?
What is surprising?
What ideas of your own would you add if you could?
Challenge: Find a work of art with nobody in it. This could be anything from a decorative art object to a still life to an abstract work of art. See if you can find something in the work of art that you can recreate through your posture. Look carefully at edges and lines, shapes and sizes. Now try moving your body as the artist may have when making this work of art. What kinds of gestures did you use? What helped you decide how to move?