Skip to Main Content

Memory Collage

Featuring Romare Bearden's Return of the Prodigal Son, 1967

Romare Bearden (American, 1911–1988). Return of the Prodigal Son, 1967. Mixed media and collage on canvas, 50 1/4 x 60 inches (127.6 x 152.4 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Armand J. Castellani (1981:39). Art © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Lesson Plan Details

Conceptual Basis

Known for his narrative collage work, Romare Bearden created scenes that reflect traditional stories and contemporary life. The themes in Bearden’s works are often relatable, containing modern commentary on well-known parables. For example, Bearden reimagined the parable of the Prodigal Son in his 1967 collage Return of the Prodigal Son. In this lesson, students will study both the ancient parable of the Prodigal Son and Bearden’s more modern collage, exploring the similarities, differences, and themes of the two works. Inspired by the story’s tone, students will create collages that reflect family memories of their own in the style of Romare Bearden.