Learning History Through Art

Last semester, Mr. Green’s modern history class had the incredibly unique and special opportunity to display an original Shepard Fairey screen-printed art piece in their classroom.
 
Shepard Fairey is the founder of Obey Clothing and the creator of iconic pieces of art like the “Hope” poster of Barack Obama. The opportunity to install a Shepard Fairey original in one of our classrooms stemmed from Bosque School parent, Lonnie Anderson. After Mr. Anderson heard about what Mr. Green’s class was learning, he asked Mr. Green if he was interested in incorporating the piece into his class and teachings. Mr. Green jumped at the opportunity. “It was an opportunity as an instructor to allow the art to be didactic material for students to become more civically engaged in their community and democracy,” said Mr. Green.
 
The piece, titled Love is the Drug (Red), fits perfectly into the theme of democracy and civics—tying into what Mr. Green teaches in his modern history class. The artwork led to dynamic class discussions. He explained, “We really talked about the power of artists in a democracy and the responsibility of critically thinking about information in a post-truth society where fascism and mass propaganda are rampant.” The concept of "double-think," which was inspired by George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, was a starting point for students to critically consider the importance of truth and the protection of democratic norms. “We talked about the history of warfare and the importance of protest and voice despite the majority supporting the antithesis of what one may believe,” said Mr. Green. 
 
His students loved the piece—it allowed them to interact with world-class art daily while contemplating the importance of truth, democracy, and critical thinking. “I provided a livestream everyday and invited other schools and students to interact with the piece via Zoom,” said Mr. Green. “Overall, it was a wonderful project and an amazing opportunity.”
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