Activities
Art & Activism

a.   Ask your students to research contemporary artists who address social and political issues. For example, Dawoud Bey, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Theaster Gates, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Sharon Hayes, Jenny Holzer, Glenn Ligon, Danny Lyon, Ai Weiwei, David Wojnarowicz. What social and political issues are these artists engaged with? How do these issues relate to students’ lives?

b.  Laura Poitras has expressed her concerns about the post-9/11 world through film, art, and writing. Ask your students to watch and discuss a selection of short films on Field of Vision,

https://theintercept.com/fieldofvision/, a filmmaker-driven visual journalism film unit co-created by Laura Poitras, AJ Schnack, and Charlotte Cook that pairs filmmakers with developing and ongoing stories around the globe. What issues and conflicts do these filmmakers address? Why are they important?

c.  What issues are your students passionate about? Have students devise a plan of action to address their issues. For example, would they join a community-based organization? Form a club? Organize an event?

d.  What format or medium would students choose to communicate their concerns about those issues? For example, film, video, television, writing, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, painting, sculpture, installation? Another medium or art form? A combination of media or material? Why would they choose this medium or material? 

e.  Ask students to make a piece about an issue that is really important to them using one or more mediums or materials. Have students present and discuss their work. What issues did they choose to focus on? What media or materials did they use? What effect did their choices have on communicating their concerns?

Dark image with faint light.

Laura Poitras (b. 1964), still from Bed Down Location, 2016. Mixed-media installation with digital color video, 3D sound design, infrared camera, and closed circuit video. Courtesy the artist