Isn’t it great when art can not only express and entertain…but also inform? There are artists all throughout history who have used their art to be educators (and as an Art Educator - isn’t that a cool thought??!) My Art 2 sophomores recently studied the work of Romare Bearden, chose a social issue to study and then created a “teaching collage” about it.
In this project, we start out by watching this video which introduces them to African American artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988). After watching the video, they read this short biography about “Uncle Romie” and his accomplished, interesting and varied life.
They make a list of social issues that affect our society (from teen suicide to drug abuse to climate change and so on…) and then do some research before choosing which one they want to study more in creating their artwork.
Once they have chosen and researched, I ask them to make a planning sketch and a list of material they will need. They need to create handmade artworks for the collage, but they can also include publications, printed information, photos and three dimensional objects.
We create these on a mat board base. Painted papers are cut into patterns and shapes for the first layer and then further layers are added. Students are encouraged to think about educating the viewer as they create. They also need to think about how the eye will move through the piece.
The success of these pieces from year to year honestly varies, but no matter how the artwork turns out, it is gratifying to see students opening their eyes and minds to issues that affect our world.