Douglas Taylor School Andre Porter and Jessica Mueller, Grade 5

What’s YOUR Story?

How has the current political climate affected you and your family’s story? How can we reflect it in our art?  As an often overlooked section of the city, how do we share our stories and our strengths as a community? 

Words by Douglas Taylor Elementary School, 5th grade Teacher, Andre Porter, and Teaching Artist, Jessica Mueller.

Students explored how visual art and music illustrate and communicate our perspectives on issues facing our communities, like immigration, gun violence, mental health, environmental protection, and more.

-Taylor Elementary, Teacher Andre Porter and Teaching Artist Jessica Mueller, 5th grade


We analyzed Marvin Gaye’s song “What’s Going On” as a reference.

We learned about Chicago artist Hebru Brantley, and how his South Side upbringing inspired the art he makes today.

We looked at how other artists respond to crisis.

We shared OUR stories.

A Better World

by Mari, 5th grade

Artist Statement:

I am going to explain my work in these paragraphs instead in a video, because I feel more comfortable doing this (I hope that’s okay). Before I begin to explain my work, I wanted to say I’m not very good at writing poetry and I’ve only written about 2 or 3 before (for school). I wrote three poems, because I couldn’t fit all I wanted to say into one poem.

I wrote my first poem with the intention of writing about how there’s still hope, but I ended up writing about how many people are standing up against discrimination. They are very similar topics, but the poem didn’t turn out how I originally wanted it to. The “they” I’m referring to in the first two poems are the courageous activists and peaceful protesters who are passionately standing up against discrimination. 

In my second poem, I decided to express how there is still hope and how the world might change. It’s very similar to the first poem and kind of the continuation to it.  I got the idea after the ancillary meeting, when multiple people were talking about how they were feeling hopeful about this situation. I talked about words being powerful, because I truly believe people can still make a difference without being violent. That last few lines in the final stanza in the poem is a reference to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

In the last poem, I decided to write about what I’ve been doing during quarantine. I’ve been doing arts and crafts, which is something I’m not accustomed to doing. I was planning on reading the Harry Potter books, but since Marianne lets me borrow them and we are self-isolating I can’t read the rest of the series (I last read the third book). To keep ourselves occupied we started to paint and it was very fun. I originally chose to paint for my project, but then Mrs.Ferrell assigned something for Science that required paint, which is why I switched to poetry, which was my second option. I have been feeling a lot more creative than usual and wanted to express that in my last poem.

I call the collection of poems “A Better World”, because standing up for what you believe in and being creative can create a better world.

Justice for Everyone

Innocent blood spilling down the street,

but they are not going to accept defeat.

They will protest and fight,

until they receive what they know is right.

They won’t stay inside,

 knowing someone has died.

It’s not time to run and hide,

It’s time to show some pride.

People who abuse their power,

will finally come down their ivory tower.

They’re march for equality will not be done,

until there’s justice for everyone.

The Light of Hope

The world is filled with discrimination,

But there will be a change in this nation.

One side will pull and tug the rope.

That side is filled with faith and hope.

Hope is like a dim light.

It’ll get brighter when we unite.

With courage, we will finally speak.

Our voice will not be meek or weak.

They will use powerful words,

sweeter than the chirps of birds.

The words are more powerful than a roar.

They’re hopes and dreams will finally soar.

After taking a stand,

Everyone will be hand in hand.

Sharing our words and listening to each other.

We will be like sister and brother.

Imagine & Create

I gather my paint and brush.

I’m going to make something in a mad rush.

I continue to sing and hum;

Who knows what my creation will become?

I go into a imaginative state;

There is no time to waste and no need to wait.

I splash on some vibrant color.

I paint people listening to one another.

I follow my imagination;

Designing a unique creation.

The creation is nor weak or frail,

It actually tells a wonderful tale.

In this video the student gives an explanation of the choices made in his art piece.

Student explains how his artwork is related to negative and positive thinking regarding the quarantine.

Student explains his drawing’s message “We can do this together” regarding the quarantine.


This student wrote her own original lyrics and combined her singing with found music, and visual imagery.


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