Bulb Archived: George Washington SCALE 2016-2017: Innocenti & Murray

Teacher: Kathryn Innocenti

Artist: Ben Murray

School: George Washington High School

Big Idea: Protests through History

Inquiry Question: How do we get kids to be more politically / civically engaged in society today?

Fall/Winter

Art Content: Murals, public art.

Non-Art Content: 2016 Presidential Election, protests, rights.

Describe how the project unfolded. (What were the class learning goals, what were your teaching or artistic explorations, what were your students’ explorations, student reactions, any changes in plans, what worked well and what didn’t work well, unexpected outcomes, how your future project planning was impacted, etc.)

This year, we knew that we wanted to create another mural. As always, we started our class discussions centered around broad themes- hoping to all find common ground, in terms of what we wanted our mural to be “about.” After going through countless conversations and votes, the class decided that we should tackle the broad theme of “equality.” We quickly jumped into thoughts about the city of Chicago, and how- literally- we are divided: culturally, socio-economically, etc. Students started making connections to our theme. They thought about events in Chicago which bring people (of all gender, race, ethnicity, etc.) together: and that was our first solid idea. We started creating images of these events. But students were realizing that this idea was becoming a bit touristy. The more sketches we created, the more it seemed like we were ignoring these big issues in today’s society, just to create a city of Chicago promo. 

So it was back to the drawing board. The week after Donald Trump became our President Elect, students had a lot of political opinions. We all simultaneously agreed that this would be a good place to start with a new idea. After a long discussion, students realized that not enough of their peers follow the news. So we decided to create a piece that would encourage students to be more (pro)active and aware. Now, we are creating a mural which says “USE YOUR VOICE.” The text will be filled with actual news articles about various global protests. The background will be filled with historical images from those same protests.

Do you think that students made progress toward the learning goals that were set for this semester? Please estimate the percentage of students who made progress toward the learning goals. Please explain the basis of your assessment.

YES! Most of our students were the ones who came to the realization that we needed to create an art piece that has a much deeper meaning. Although Ben and I helped to guide their conversations, they were the ones who ultimately decided that we needed to rethink our topic.

Please upload photos and/or videos of student work or classroom artifacts that demonstrate student learning and/or provide evidence that learning goals were or were not achieved. Describe how the artifacts, images or videos illustrate students achieving, partially achieving, or not achieving the learning goals.

image-
image-
image-
 Students practicing color temperatures through painting collage
image-
image-

How did your teacher/artist collaboration work this semester? Describe how you and your partner planned together. How did you compromise when there were conflicts or differences of approaches or ideas? Can you cite a specific example?

We approached the project by starting off with formal lessons in color theory and painting techniques while hosting brainstorming sessions with students to determine our project’s (the mural’s) aim in creating a politically aware image, in order to help keep them in part of and engaged with the overall dialogue of it. Originally, the student’s came up with the idea of making a piece dedicated to celebrating human equality in the city of Chicago. However, after current politics started becoming more and more visibly encroaching on the core of our project, the mural turned into a tool to support people standing up for themselves and protect human rights/equality, by giving text examples in history and a slogan to help empower student voices.

Describe how you teach together in the classroom. Who does what? How do you understand each other’s roles? Can you cite a specific example?

Over the past few years, our teaching has become more naturally distributed. If there are techniques that one of us has more than the other, we play to our strengths. However, we both participate in demos, lectures and leading discussions. In brainstorming sessions, we both go to the board. In painting demos, we both grab a brush.

Winter/Spring

Art Content: Public art, murals. 

Non-Art Content: Protests throughout history, being an active community member, creating change.

Describe how the project unfolded. (What were the class learning goals, what were your teaching or artistic explorations, what were your students’ explorations, student reactions, any changes in plans, what worked well and what didn’t work well, unexpected outcomes, how your future project planning was impacted, etc.)

Our original plan was to have the entire mural drawn out and projected onto the wall for tracing. But we discussed that some of the best artwork ever created has unfolded organically- so we decided to give that a try. Each student took ownership of one (or a couple of) protest(s). They would decide how to visually construct that area of the mural, and also how that would connect to the protest on either side of theirs. 

Students learned what it means to go back and edit each other’s artwork, take a step back and gain new perspective, how to collaborate, and how to accept constructive criticism. 

As of right now, we are *close* to being done. We are currently finishing the very large text, which will be attached to the wall, using velcro. We are all working overtime to finish our mural- the students are 100% committed to their vision and mission to create a stronger and more active school community. 

Do you think that students made progress toward the learning goals that were set for this semester? Please estimate the percentage of students who made progress toward the learning goals. Please explain the basis of your assessment.

Although our overall student attendance dropped (we are now down to 8 solid artists), the ones who have been here since day 1 are incredibly invested in this mural. Students come in on their lunch breaks, after school, and whenever they have time in the mornings to continue their work. We have witnessed these students becoming more vocal about social and political issues, having conversations about said issues with their friends, as well as other students/faculty/community members who stop by to comment on the mural. Their passion is reflected in their commitment, painting, conversations, and interest in what is happening in our world today.

Please upload photos and/or videos of student work or classroom artifacts that demonstrate student learning and/or provide evidence that learning goals were or were not achieved. Describe how the artifacts, images or videos illustrate students achieving, partially achieving, or not achieving the learning goals.

image-
CAPE students meeting Congressman John Lewis and graphic novelist Andrew Aydin at UofC!!! 
image-
Students heading to the Art Institute of Chicago to view the Helio Oticica exhibit!
image-
image-
Mural (in progress)
image-
Mural Closeup (in progress)

How did your teacher/artist collaboration work this semester? Describe how you and your partner planned together. How did you compromise when there were conflicts or differences of approaches or ideas? Can you cite a specific example?

This semester we caught our stride, and were able to make a lot of progress painting the wall. We collected enough preliminary drawings that were made in response class discussions concerning equality while living in our times. Initially, the project was set to create a mural that celebrated the places of equality throughout Chicago. However, the planning stages were running congruently to a lot of new political action and discussion highlighting the country’s population concerning our country’s position to them. After seeing that our project started becoming tone-deaf to our political climate, we decided to shift gears and direct our attention by sending a message to help empower students individually by showing them examples of people who have stood up.

Describe how you teach together in the classroom. Who does what? How do you understand each other’s roles? Can you cite a specific example?

I think over time, we’ve been able to adapt and work off each other pretty organically. Especially after we develop a plan as a classroom. Both Teacher and Artist contribute to the discussions and visual art aspects. After the work is underway, and we work off of sketches from student drawings, we get to work.