Skip to Content

Esperanza Spalding: Examining Portraiture

1 Favorite 1 Copy (view)
Music +2

This teacher's guide provides portraits and analysis questions to enrich students' examination of Esperanza Spalding, a Grammy-winning jazz bassist and singer. Includes the video "Defining Portraiture: How are portraits both fact and fiction?" and the National Portrait Gallery's "Reading" Portraiture Guide for Educators, both of which provide suggestions and questions for analyzing portraiture. Also includes a video of artist Bo Gehring speaking about his portrait of Spalding and a Smithsonian Magazine article about her curation of an exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.


  • What do these portraits have in common? How are they different?
  • How are these portraits both fact and fiction?
  • How do these portraits reflect how she wanted to be seen, or how others wanted her to be seen? Consider for what purpose these portraits were created.
  • Having read listened to her music, does the portrait capture your image of Esperanza Spalding? Why, or why not?
  • If you were creating your own portrait of Esperanza Spalding, what characteristics would you emphasize, and why?

Keywords: musician, oregon, American, #BecauseOfHerStory, #SmithsonianMusic