'Witness Wall' of Story Quilt: Clay Tiles or Mixed Media Artworks

Length: Two class periods

To commemorate Nashville's role in the historic Civil Rights Movement, the Metro Arts Commission approved the selection of artist Walter Hood to create new public art.  His design for Witness Walls utilizes iconic photos of the Civil Rights movement in Nashville to honor the events and the people who created the blueprint for nonviolent protest.  The installation will be located on the west side of the historic Metro Nashville Courthouse, steps away from the historic April 19, 1960 student-led protest.

In this Visual Arts lesson, students will:

  • have ongoing one-on-one to checks for
  • understanding throughout creative process
  • have class discussion
  • create thumbnail sketches
  • have a Final Project (clay or mixed media work) turned in with evaluation rubric
  • have a Venn Diagram compare/contrast reflection


Standards & Objectives

Learning objectives: 

Content Standards:
1.4 Apply successfully the qualities and characteristics of a chosen medium (e.g., make informed selection of materials based on anticipated physical/aesthetic qualities).
2.3 Use the various sensory and expressive qualities in art to evoke ideas and emotions (e.g., create an artwork that portrays a specific mood or feeling).
3.3 Choose and execute ideas in a work of art (e.g., use ideas such as personal story, social issues/injustices, civil rights issues-- in a work of art).
5.3 Reflect on the discussion of one’s art and the art of others in class critiques.
State Performance Indicators:
1.1.3 Select appropriate media, techniques, and processes to create intended meaning and desired effect in a work of art.
2.3.3 Apply various sensory and expressive qualities in a work of art.
3.1.3 Apply subjects, themes, and symbols in works of art in an effective manner. 
5.3.2 Analyze similarities among and differences between one’s artwork and the artwork of others. (compare/contrast reflection).

Clear Learning Targets:

  • I can use various information: digital text & powerpoint presentation, to learn about artists Walter Hood (Nashville Witness Walls installation) and Faith Ringgold (story quilts that reveal ideas, themes & symbolism of her life and that of the Civil Rights Movement).
  • I can generate answers to the questions: “What social and civil injustices still exist today?” and select one on which to focus my art project.
  • I can create a story quilt *clay tile or *mixed media artwork in the style of Faith Ringgold that depicts my chosen current social or civil injustice that is in need of resolution still today.
  • I can use expressive qualities to create mood through the elements and principles of art in my project.
  • I can reflect upon my art by comparing and contrasting, using a triple Venn diagram, the works of Walter Hood and Faith Ringgold.
  • I can be a part of a class “Witness Wall” in the spirit of Walter Hood, where all of the clay tiles or mixed media works are displayed together as one big art installation.

Task Objectives (steps to reach mastery of clear learning targets):

  • Brief introduction of Walter Hood, Faith Ringgold (powerpoint)
  • Have students read text about Walter Hood on Metro Arts website.
  • Have students research Faith Ringgold and her story quilts by use of iPads, computers, personal 
  • devices or handouts below. Digital is best since students can see several examples of the quilts.
  • Take note of themes, subjects, symbolism in F.R. works.
  • Brainstorm list of social and civil injustices that are still unresolved today. Can be school wide, community, worldwide, etc. Can do individually- then as a class.
  • Students take the social/civil injustice and form it into a question as a title for their artwork: e.g.
  • “What’s really behind school shootings?”, “Racism: Aren’t we really all the same on the inside?”
  • This will require some modeling and scaffolding by the teacher.
  • Begin synthesizing ideas into thumbnail sketches in sketchbook for art project.
  • Begin work in clay or mixed media supplies.
  • Reflection by compare/contrast Venn Diagram.
  • Display all works together as a class “Witness Wall”.
  • Reflect on the similarities and differences of this Wall and that of Walter Hood’s Witness Walls
Essential and guiding questions: 

Assessing questions:

  • What question have I developed that addresses a social or civil rights issue that is present today?
  • How will I present this as my theme in my artwork?
  • How will I choose symbols or ideas to express this idea in a creative way?
  • Which elements or principles can help me create mood or feeling in my art?
  • How will I use those elements and principles specifically to create the moods/feeling I want to convey in my art?
  • What media, techniques, or processes will I choose to create the effects I desire in my art piece?
  • What similarities and differences will I find between my work and the works of Walter Hood and Faith Ringgold?

Advancing questions:

  • What important message am I communicating with my art in this day and age?
  • Why is it important to for me to share the message about this social/civil rights issue?
  • If there could be a specific people group I could target with my art message (art work), who would it be? Why would it be this group?
  • What important discoveries have I made when comparing and contrasting my art with that of Walter Hood and Faith Ringgold? 

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Differentiation suggestions: 

Scaffolding opportunities (to address learning challenges):

  • Brainstorm as a class,
  • Think-pair-share
  • Buddy-partner-read for digital text
  • Small group discussion after reading to share content
  • Teacher check thumbnails for understanding, especially. in early stages

Opportunities to Differentiate:

  • Learning (explain how you address particular student needs by differentiating process, content, or product)
  • Adapted text for learners with disabilities
  • Have several extra extension activities ready for students who are showing high interest or who master the content quickly
  • For the student with high artistic ability, challenge them further with special techniques in clay or mixed media: oil pastel, painting techniques.

Helpful Hints

Materials and Resources:

  • iPads
  • computers
  • personal devices (if the aforementioned is not available: informational text handout on Faith Ringgold complete with visuals of her story quilts)
  • Venn Diagram 
  • rubric

For making project in Clay:

  • clay
  • clay tools
  • glazes (or paints)

For making project in Mixed Media:

  • poster board or other very sturdy paper 
  • various paints
  • oil pastels
  • charcoal
  • colored papers
  • scissors