SchoolArts Magazine

November 2017

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Page 16 of 54

P O I N T O F V I E W CONTINUED ON PAGE 41. A dama Bah was awakened in the night when officers from the FBI, Immigration, and NYPD entered her home and began searching her family's apartment. It was March of 2005 and Adama was sixteen. She assumed they had come for her father on an immigra - tion violation. It wasn't until officers told her to put on her shoes that she realized they had come for her. Adama was a student at my small public high school. Rumors about her "arrest" quickly circulated the school. In fact, Adama and another teenage girl from her mosque had been detained and were being held without explanation as potential suicide bomb - ers; a notion that was incomprehen- sible to those of us who knew her. A Project in Progress My Art II class was in the midst of planning a culminating project to create a site-specific public art piece. Students had secured an agreement with a midtown law firm to exhibit their work in its public atrium. Now the class would have to agree on the content of the piece and work collab - oratively on its design and creation. My student-teacher, Chelsea Green, and I introduced students to the con - cept of using art for social commentary as they considered potential themes. Artists are often inspired by events or feelings that strongly affect them. Visual art offers a vehicle through which artists can express their con - cerns and increase society's awareness of issues that need attention. Justice and Injustice A few of the ideas suggested by stu- dents were: the war in Iraq, racism, gun violence, equality for women, substance abuse, and economic dispar - ity. Knowing that the piece would be displayed at a law firm helped students hone in on a theme of Justice/Injustice. We asked students to reflect on their own experiences with justice or injus - tice. This ten-minute writing activity had a tremendous impact on the direc - tion of the project. Some students wrote about personal experiences such as racial profiling by the police and store employees, while others described the experiences of friends or family mem - bers. Two students wrote about Adama. Considering Our Community Galvanized by Adama's situation, students enthusiastically decided to work on a piece from the perspec - tive of what was happening in our school community as a result of her detention. Some people supported her privately but were afraid to say so publically; others spoke out in support of her in the press and were actively advocating for her. Students wanted to make a piece that would hold a mirror up to the community and ask viewers to reflect on where they stood—were they supporters or bystanders? A Sculpture for Adama When representatives from the ini- tial site balked at the subject matter, students had to decide whether to change the content of the piece or Injustice in Our Midst Kim Lane In an environment where the elt safe to find and use their voices, students were able to process, create, and take action through art. 12 NOVEMBER 2017 SchoolArts

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