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Protest art of the nineties.

Being a product of the sixties, I wondered if the students of the eighties and nineties felt strongly enough about any problem to protest it through their artwork. The protest would have to be a visual image without words. Students were asked to brainstorm issues of the eighties and focus on one they felt strongly about. The results were exceptional.

A goal of this assignment was to achieve a greater diversity of subject and material. This was done by giving the students creative control of their protest statement. They had permission to use any tools or materials they wanted. They were encouraged to take risks and to combine materials. To add to the challenge, the students were asked to work in relief with the image raised no higher than one and one-half inches.

The time frame was three weeks (forty minutes per day). Some of the material options were magazine photos, photocopies, foam-core board, tempera or acrylic paint, charcoal, color pencil/chalk, copper wire, cellophane, soda cans and broken mirrors.

The work had to stand alone as the group evaluated it. Was it obvious to the viewer what the artist was protesting? What makes the statement work? What gives it visual impact? How do the materials affect the overall statement?

I was very pleased with the resulting artworks, the conversations that the project generated, the values the students discussed, and the overall focus of each student.

Ken Viet teaches art as Montgomery High School, Skillman, New Jersey.
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Author:Vieth, Ken
Publication:School Arts
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Words:247
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