Women Artists Make Social Change
Gilda Sharpe-Etteh
teaches Visual Arts at The English High School.

 

Students: Grades 9–12 Art class, Special Education class & student club members of Africans Around the World
Partners
Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Immigrant Women from Colombia, Haiti, Jordan, Kurdistan, Nigeria
Massachusetts College of Art
Boston Public Schools Art Department

Classroom Activities
Read biographies of Georgia O’Keefe & Faith Ringgold
Research online images of their work
View videos Georgia O’ Keefe & Faith Ringgold: Paints Crown Heights
Reflect on each woman’s role in her community & in the nation
Write letters inviting immigrant women to classroom
Prepare questions for classroom visit
Record women’s stories in journals
Create art work based on students’ own stories
Select student artwork for display
Community Activities
Visit class of students of special education students & share O’Keefe’s & Ringgold’s images & stories
View paintings by women at Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Present videos to school club Africans Around the World
Interview immigrant women about opportunities for women in their country of origin
Exhibit student artwork at Boston City Hall
Exhibit student artwork in school lobby during visit of Massachusetts Department of Education officials
Teacher Reflections
This project had several positive outcomes. It showed how Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings advance the role of women in art and how Faith Ringgold’s quilts encourage artists to share their stories. . . . Many of my students are newcomers to this country. The project allowed them to listen to other immigrants, compare techniques and messages of the two women artists, and then create work based on their own personal experiences. Working on this project has helped me be more creative as artist and as teacher. Now I not only teach elements of art and principles of design, but I include technology, language arts, history of art, and community perspectives.

Student Reflections
Georgia O’Keefe and Faith Ringgold expressed their feelings and beliefs in different ways. Yet, in the end, they both connected and made changes in our society. . . . These women have helped me by showing the different ways I can create. Now I feel free to combine several media. I don’t need to use only brush and paint. I can use pencil, pen, marker, scissors, fabric, or anything I find. . . . You can see by their pictures that Ringgold is a dark complexioned lady and O’Keefe is light complexioned. But these two ladies had one passion: art. Grown in totally different places, they both expressed themselves through art. Now I see what I can do for art, and what art can do for the world.

TeachNet Service Learning is administered by Boston Public Schools Affiliate IMPACT II @ High School Renewal.
Supporting TeachNet are Special Assistant to the Superintendent for High School Renewal, Kathleen Mullin; IMPACT II Affiliate Director Barbara Locurto; WebMaster Andrew Binns; Web Advisor Linda Younis, High School Renewal; and Project Assistant Jean Gibran. For more information, email blocurto@gmail.com.

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