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Mix and Match Portraits (lesson plan)


In this lesson, students will explore the NCMA’s Bacchus sculpture and make their own Bacchus-inspired mix and match portraits.

Grade Levels
Subject Areas
Visual Arts
NC Standards Correlations
Visual Arts
Approaches to Play and Learning
APL-1, APL- 4, APL-8
Language Development and Communication:
LDC-2, LDC-3, LDC-5
Cognitive Development
CD-4, CD-5

Artwork Related to this Lesson

Student Learning Objectives

  1. Students will be able to identify Bacchus from his visual attributes.
  2. Students will make their own mix and match portraits inspired by composite sculpture.
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Invite students to have a conversation about the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Bacchus sculpture by sharing the below images, information, and exploring the NCMA’s Bacchus conservation project.

This is a sculpture of the Roman god Bacchus. The Romans saw Bacchus as an important character in the stories they shared as a community. This mythology helped them explain little things in their daily life like the weather and also big ideas like how the world came to be. Bacchus was important to the Roman people and they saw him like you might see a superhero with superpowers. 

Who are your favorite superheroes? Picture what they look like in your mind. Do they have an outfit or accessories they always wear? Encourage the students to share their ideas.

Bacchus is shown with certain accessories so people can recognize him. He wears a wreath of leaves and berries on his head, holding a cup in his left hand. Although his original right arm is missing, a new one was made and the hand will hold a cluster of grapes.

Imagine that Bacchus is a character in a book you are reading as a class. What story could we tell about Bacchus based on what we see in this sculpture? 

You might have noticed that Bacchus is not wearing clothes. This might seem silly! As the viewer, sometimes art can make us feel embarrassed or uncomfortable but the ancient Romans were very proud of the human body and wanted the artists to show it off.


Prepare a space where the students can make their own mix and match portraits. This project can be made over two days. Make a dress up box available with props and costumes. Use a phone or digital camera to take four photos of each student (in four different poses) in front of a white wall. Print the photos out, divide the pages into thirds, and cut the photographs for the students. Each student should have their photos, three 4×4 kraft boxes, and Mod Podge to apply their images to the boxes.

As a composite sculpture, NCMA’s Bacchus is composed of body parts carved from different blocks of marble and attached during different periods of time. 

Invite students to make their own composite artwork – mix and match portraits from their pictures – that they can change and rearrange. 

Students can visit the dress up bin and choose accessories or props that best describe them. 

Take four photos of each student. Ask them to move their body into four different poses. Practice before you take the photos. They can even pose like Bacchus!

Print off the photographs. Draw two horizontal lines across the page to divide the page into thirds. Cut along the edge of the photograph or use the flat face of the box to trace a square over the images and cut.

Use Mod Podge to apply the images to the sides of the boxes. Ask students to stack their boxes so their heads are on the top and their feet are on the bottom.     

Stick brads through the boxes to help the boxes pivot.            

Mix and Match Portraits

Mix and Match portraits

Extension Activities

  • Show your emotion! We all feel different emotions throughout the day and often feel more than one emotion at the same time. While taking the photos ask students to show the photographer their happy, silly, mad, and excited faces.
  • Invite students to imagine a story in which they are the main character. What happens in the story? Use the dolls to act out the story and express how they are feeling.
  • Invite the students to choose four different costumes from the dress up box – and make them as wacky as possible – for their photographs.

By NCMA Pre-K Programs Educator, Emily Perreault


  1. Ask students how people can identify Bacchus in art.
  2. Observe how students follow the process directions for making their composite characters.

Lesson Resources









4×4 Brown Kraft Tuck Top Boxes

Mod Podge

Foam Brushes

Printed Photographs

Phone or Digital Camera to take Photos

Costumes and Props


Reading List

A Child’s Introduction to Greek Mythology: The Stories of the Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, Monsters, and Other Mythical Creatures written by Heather Alexander and illustrated by Meredith Hamilton

Young Zeus by G. Brian Karas

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