Political Messages through Symbols

Activity Steps:

Decide on a current political or social issue to represent in an artwork. How can you express your point of view visually?

Option 1: Photographic still life
1. Imagine:
Make a list of images or objects that could symbolize your chosen social issue.
2. Find:
Track down these images (newspapers and magazines can be good sources) or objects and bring them to class.
3. Compose:
Work with a partner to arrange your objects into an interesting composition, using light and shadow to create visual effects. Photograph the finished composition several times, changing it slightly each time. Do the lighting and the varied arrangements change the meaning of the artwork's message?
4. Produce:
Print out the photographs, choose the one that best represents your point of view, and give it a title.
5. Optional:
Write a paragraph to accompany the image.
Option 2: Photomontage
1. Select:
Look through magazines and newspapers and select three or four photographic images that represent opposing points of view or conditions that relate to your chosen issue. Analyze them and their symbolism: If they are advertisements, what are they trying to sell you? How? Are they effective? What symbols do they contain?
2. Produce:
Carefully cut the images out of the magazines and arrange them in a way that implies a political or social statement. Glue the arrangement onto a sturdy piece of paper or cardboard. Give your collage a title and share it with the rest of the class.
3. Reflect:
Discuss with the class whether the individual collages, with their chosen symbols, convey the intended messages. What would have made them stronger? If they appeared on a billboard, without the artists there to explain them, would the public understand the points of view being expressed?