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Activity: Make a Mixed Media Collage

detail of assembled mixed media collage

This activity is inspired by Miriam Schapiro’s collage A Mayan Garden. Learn more about this artwork and get creative with color, shape, and pattern!

Look Closer: 

Miriam Schapiro, A Mayan Garden
Miriam Schapiro, A Mayan Garden, 1984, 34 x 60 in., fabric and acrylic on canvas collage, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2012.18. Photography by Edward C. Robison III.

Take a moment to look closely at this work. What patterns and colors can you find? What does the overall shape of the work remind you of?

The artist Miriam Schapiro wanted the shape of this work to look like an enormous fan. A hand fan is an object often used by women. Can you find any colors or shapes in this work that remind you of a woman in your life? What other colors and shapes remind you of this person?

This work is a collage made from fabric and paint. A collage is an assortment of items glued to a flat surface. Can you name some objects that have fabric in them? Do you know anyone who creates things with fabric?

The materials and shapes used are stereotypically associated with women. Because of that, Schapiro called these works “femmages” or feminist collages. Have you ever made a collage before? What kind of materials did you use?

Activity: Make a Mixed Media Collage

Materials Needed:

  • Thin cardboard (like from a cereal or snack box)
  • Scissors
  • Gluestick 
  • Old magazines
  • Colored or patterned paper
  • Something to draw with (pencil, pen, or marker)
Materials needed to make Mixed Media Collage


Step 1: Think of a shape you like and draw it onto a piece of thin cardboard. You could make a triangle, a circle, a blob, or anything you can imagine. The bigger you create the shape, the better.

Step 2: Cut out the shape with a pair of scissors. Rather than moving the scissors while you cut, try moving the cardboard. This is a great, safe way to cut out objects.

Step 3: Next, cut out smaller shapes from the colored or patterned paper and arrange them onto your piece of cardboard. You can draw out the shapes beforehand or trace an object from your home. Try repeating the paper shapes to create a pattern.

Step 4: Once you’ve covered all of the cardboard and are happy with the design, glue the paper shapes in place.

Assembled base for mixed media collage

Step 5: Did you notice how A Mayan Garden had flowers on top of the pattern? Find and cut out objects you’d like to add to your work from an old magazine. Then, paste them on top of your design.

Step 6: Find a place to display your work! Talk to friends or family about what you created. Why did you choose those shapes, colors, and objects?

assembled mixed media collage

Have fun creating! Share your collages with us on social media – tag #crystalbridges on Instagram.

Written by Marie Hofer, museum educator, Crystal Bridges.

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Youth and Family programming is supported in part by AMP Sign & Banner, Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Juan, Marcy and Joaquin Camacho, The Coca-Cola Company, iHeart Media, JTH Productions, Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Pinnacle Car Services, Procter & Gamble, Gordon and Carole Segal, The Simmons Family Fund, and ViacomCBS Consumer Products.

Education and Learning is supported in part by Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, The Northern Trust Company, Pamela and Wayne Garrison, Doug and Shelley McMillon, Jack and Melba Shewmaker Family, Neff and Scarlett Basore, Galen and Debi Havner, Lance and Sharon Beshore, Cardinal Four Foundation, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Harry Cornell, Cox Communications, Dorothy Hurt, J.M. Smucker Company, Kimberly-Clark, Nice-Pak Products, Inc., The Russell Berrie Foundation, Stephen and Claudia Strange, Felix and Margaret Wright.