Begin by introducing public art. What is it? What is its purpose? Ask the students to think about why involving the community might help make a public work of art successful. Next, introduce The Freedom Wall mural and have students view the documentary about its creation.
After the viewing, begin discussions around three points: texture, community-based art, and activism.
- Begin by discussing the wall texture from The Freedom Wall mural and ask the students to share how each artist dealt with the challenge it presented. Explain that this texture will tie into their future mural project.
- Next, discuss the word community and what it means to them. Have the students come up with their own definition. What does it mean to have art as part of a community?
- Ask the students to create a list of issues that they think current activists might be thinking about.
Next, give the students a research project. They should begin by researching local contemporary activists in the library. They should find as much information and as many images as possible. Make sure to connect with the librarian ahead of time to prepare materials for their research.
(Optional Expansion: Ask students which activists represented in the mural they recognize. Create a list of names they are not so familiar with and ask your students to perform research about those figures. They could present about these activists, along with the local ones.)
As a class, group students into pairs or small groups to present about their chosen activists. Have them share at least one interesting fact about who they chose, and why they decided to focus on that person. (Optional Expansion: The students can develop a set of questions and, if possible, interview their chosen activist. Make sure they take a photo if they do not have one readily available.)
If your students have not been introduced to basic portrait proportions, then begin the artmaking part of the lesson with this technique. Otherwise, have them practice drawing a portrait of one of the activists depicted on The Freedom Wall.
Each student is to receive a large piece of cardboard. Instruct the students to begin by drawing in pencil an outline of their local activist. After they have outlined the portrait, they can rip the cardboard in the background or keep it whole. This will simulate the texture of the wall that The Freedom Wall mural was created on. The students are to draw directly onto the cardboard using whatever drawing materials are available.
When the portraits are completed, the class will discuss how and where they want to display their portraits. Explain that this will be a temporary installation. Talk about why some murals are temporary and some are permanent. This could lead into discussion about materials, location, and purpose.
Lead a discussion about titling their work. Why do they think The Freedom Wall was given that title? What title would work best for their piece? Does it represent their community? Why or why not?