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Romare Bearden. His Life and Influence . Early Life. Born in North Carolina At age 9, his family moved to Harlem. Started university at Lincoln, completed his studies at New York University; with an Education degree.

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romare bearden

Romare Bearden

His Life and Influence

early life
Early Life
  • Born in North Carolina
  • At age 9, his family moved to Harlem.
  • Started university at Lincoln, completed his studies at New York University; with an Education degree.
  • Worked for over twenty five years as a social worker, creating art around his work schedule.
  • Known for his photomontages and his collages
artist and cultural commentator
Artist and Cultural Commentator
  • His work has been described as ‘visual metaphors’ from his past in North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Harlem.
  • In the 1960’s, he helped found the Spiral group – a group of African-American artists, to promote the work of Black artists, and contribute to the civil rights movement.
  • He suggested they create a collage, which he ultimately ended up finishing himself.
  • Romare, along with others, started the Cinque Gallery, for the sole purpose of exhibiting the works of emerging black artists.
“The Prodigal Son has left North Carolina, gotten into bad company and has come back to the 'old folks,' his home, where, as Robert Frost says, when no one else wants you, they got to take you in."

ROMARE BEARDEN, RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL SON, 1967 Mixed media and collage on canvas, 50 1/4 x 60". Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Armand J. Castellani, 1981

lesson plan collage
Lesson Plan Collage


  • Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of images within various social, historical and cultural contexts.
  • Students will create a collage in the style of Romare Bearden.


  • 8X8 piece of cardboard per student
  • Various pieces of corrugated cardboard, sandpaper, toothpicks, cork.
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Oil pastels


  • Students will create a cityscape collage using the materials given.
  • They will glue the various pieces on the 8X8 piece of cardboard, in a design of their choosing.
  • After their design is glued down, students will paint the entire collage with black acrylic paint.
  • When this is dry, they will add colour with oil pastels.

Grade 7

examples from middle school students
Examples from Middle School Students

The textures were glued onto cardboard, painted black and then oil pastels added for colour.


Words with Wings selected by Belinda Rochelle. This is a beautiful book with African poetry and art. Romare’s ‘Family’ collage is placed next to Paul Dunbar’s ‘Little Brown Baby’ poem.