Big and Small: Bodily Difference and Disability in the Work of Velázquez and Botero

Matthew Kelly, Spanish, Independence High School

Final Unit (PDF)     Implementing Common Core Standards (PDF)

200 Word Synopsis

This unit addresses bodily differences across languages and cultures through the lens of art history. Through the work of Spanish painter Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) and contemporary Colombian painter Fernando Botero (born 1932) we will leverage the power of portrayals of unique and differentiated bodies—bodies that conform neither to statistical norms nor an artistic ideal—to engage students with art, language, culture and history. In doing so, we will meet curricular objectives for studying art history and culture in the context of the World Languages classroom. We will also explore the cultural context and construction of bodily differences and disability. We will use the target language, Spanish, to address questions relevant across the curriculum: when does bodily difference constitute disability? What defines a bodily difference as a disability—physical function or social definition? How are bodily differences construed differently across cultures? Finally, how can we make art, along with World Languages, something students use, as opposed to something students merely study?