Revolutionary Thinkers / Revolutionary Actions

Activity Steps:

Compare and contrast the actions of an artist with those of a political figure or other prominent social and cultural leader and create a project that reflects your understanding of their similarities and differences.

1. Choose:
With a partner or small group, choose one artist at right to research. Discuss this artist's work and beliefs, then select a political figure who has (or had) similar concerns. For example, you might connect the artist Judy Chicago with the writer and social activist Betty Friedan, since they both played significant roles in advancing women's rights. You might also link the artist Diego Rivera with the political and military leader Emiliano Zapata, since they were contemporaries who both believed in Communism and social revolution for Mexico.
2. Research:
Research your selected artist and political figure (beyond the information available in Making Sense of Modern Art). Be sure to make research notes for your teacher to review. Answer the following questions:

  1. How did your two figures develop their revolutionary ideas?
  2. Why did they feel compelled to work toward change?
  3. How were their roles similar or different?
  4. What were the positive or negative outcomes of their engagement with political issues?
3. Create:
Produce one of the following projects, using your research.

  1. Create an illustrated timeline of the lives of the artist and the political figure. Draw pictures or paste in magazine photos to accompany your text. What are the conflicts or injustices that they set about correcting? Compare their strategies for working toward change. Compare the outcomes.
  2. Write an imaginary conversation or skit between your selected artist and political figure.
4. Present:
Show your final project to the class and receive constructive criticism.
5. Reflect:
In your journal, reflect on the ways in which art can be a catalyst for and a reflection of social change. Based on the cases you and your classmates have presented, do you think change comes easily and quickly, or only after a long struggle?