Higher Education

Remaking the Mural through Visual Analysis and Reinterpretation

Curriculum for Design and Drawing Classrooms

January 2022

by Amy Diaz-Infante
Instructor in Printmaking, Drawing, and Design
City College of San Francisco


This lesson was developed as a final project for an introductory level Basic Design course at City College of San Francisco and focuses on Diego Rivera’s Pan American Unity (1940) mural. Over the course of the semester, students first gained an understanding of design elements and principles through lectures and smaller exercises and assignments. In this final project, students have an opportunity to apply the skills they have developed in class. This project asks them to:

  • Study a work of art based on design elements and design principles and engage in formal, written analysis.
  • Engage in further written analysis through research about the artwork and/or artist, producing a greater understanding and enhancing the student’s interpretation of the work.
  • Create an artwork that presents the meaning or message of the studied work in a new way, speaking to their own experience and a contemporary context.

Students select at least three design elements or principles to focus on within their formal analysis, although this project can be adapted for various education levels or turned into a smaller project that introduces one design element or principle. The materials could also be applied to other artworks, or used on a museum visit in which students select a work of art to study independently. The Visual Analysis Guide, included in the lesson plan, can be used by students as a reference and place to sketch and make notes about their selected work of art.



Teaching Diego Rivera’s Pan American Unity Mural: Curriculum from City College of San Francisco
Detail view of Diego Rivera's mural Pan American Unity. See All