Art teacher Megan Rains-Mercado writes in this blog post about this year's Landon Lower School art show. The show, titled "Collaborative Portraits of Prominent Members of the Civil Rights Movement," features projects that not only build the boys' creative skills but also teach them about leadership and character through a look back at transformative figures in U.S. civil rights history.
I believe art is an excellent way to teach students empathy, understanding, and civility. Each year, I create a project with the Lower School boys to commemorate Black History Month and Women's History Month. This year in honor of our school's goal to be "One Landon", I wanted to create a group project that encouraged the boys to work together as a team.
Working with our Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Joe Canty, we choose eight people from the U.S. civil rights and women's rights movements we felt embodied the character qualities we work to instill in our students such as honor, civility, courage, creativity, perseverance, and kindness.
All the Lower School art classes learned a brief history of these movements. Each homeroom then focused on the life and work of a different influential figure. We added quotes from those featured to help the portraits better capture the spirit, life, and accomplishments of each person.
The boys learned several painting and coloring techniques, working with a variety of materials. The final tiles or squares combine watercolor and acrylic paint with oil and charcoal pastels to create clean, clear images with bright, bold colors.
I choose the colors red, white, and blue for the portraits because these people helped to create and define our country. Each student created several practice squares, experimenting with the materials, building their skills, to prepare for their final image squares.
The boys seemed to enjoy working with a variety of media and working together. The students took pride in their work and helped one another perfect their techniques so their images would stand out. They were very excited to see all the classes portraits displayed together!
In the end, this lesson created a collaborative, team spirit in each homeroom. It was a fun, colorful way to teach the boys the importance of community, civility, kindness, respect, hard work, responsibility, perseverance, and teamwork.