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Social Reform Art By Middle School Students

Social Reform Art by Middle School Students

Thanks to a grant from the Jaime A. Hulley Arts Foundation, I was able to bring an art workshop to my old junior high school (now a middle school). The eighth graders were learning about the Social Reform Movement and each group of two or three students made an art piece about one reformer who inspired them. In turn, they inspired me with their thoughtful work.

The two girls on the left below created a piece inspired by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, an African-American abolitionist, suffragist, poet and author. They used a selection from her poetry to write on an open book and a feather became her quill. The piece on the right below was inspired by “Freedom’s Journal,” the first African American owned and operated newspaper in the US.

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The piece on the left below represents Mary Ann Shaddy Cary’s determination to keep fighting against slavery in spite of the many challenges and emotions. The piece on the right below was inspired by abolitionist William Wells Brown.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson’s belief that God can be found within people is depicted in the piece on the left. The piece in the middle shows how Frances Willard felt that the temperance movement could transform people. And the piece on the right below represents Maria Stewart’s voice. When she first started lecturing about ending slavery, not many people listened. But as time went on, her voice grew louder and reached more people (even if those people sometimes threw tomatoes at her).

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The abstract shapes in the piece on the left below represent the many feelings of Nat Turner as he went from slave to the leader of a rebellion. Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad are depicted in the piece on the right below.

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Mary Lyon, who fought for women’s education, is represented by mountains she needed to overcome and the books she believed all should have access to on the left below. And Elizabeth Cady Stanton is shown speaking about women’s rights on the right.

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As a special treat, Fred Hulley, from the Jamie A. Hulley Arts Foundation was able to join us and watched the students create their fabulous piece.

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Once the pieces were done, the students shared their pieces with the rest of the class and then the art was hung in the hallway for the whole school to enjoy.

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