Christopher M. Erato, Ana Marva Fernandez, Mara Siegel, JJ Veronis

Grade Level: 9-12

How is power exercised, exploited, and experienced in society?

  • What kinds of power exist in society?
  • How does social power affect our perception of ourselves?
  • How does a symbol acquire power? How do symbols or icons have power over us?
  • How does the economy affect us individually?
  • How can you intervene in oppressive power structures?

From mass media, to peer pressure, to politics, power is a part of everyday life. As media consumers, we are exposed to information that has been processed and selectively presented to us. Art has the potential to incite and promote cultural and political resistance. It is a medium that can be used to engage citizens in political discourse and garner opposition to existing hierarchical structures.

Revolutions transform an established mindset into a new ideal that unites the dissatisfied populace. Collaborative art practices have the potential to transform everyday life and standard ways of being, thinking and behaving. As artists, we address the topic of power in order to rediscover ourselves as free citizens; we become storytellers, examining the multiple facets of life affected by socio-economic inequalities. Art provides an interdisciplinary and uncensored approach to the transmission of new messages to mass audiences.

In this class, we will use art to reflect on our social and political selves and participate in changing unjust situations.

Class Sessions

Week 1:
Power and Me
Students consider how we understand power in society and create a work of art that reflects negative or positive experiences with power in order to reveal or transform a specific power dynamic.

Week 2: Social Power

Students will discuss how social power affects social norms, their perception of themselves, their impression of others, social pressure, and the expectations that they have of themselves. Using popular icons from magazines or their memory, students will represent an aspect of social power that affects them.

Week 3: Marks on Bodies
This lesson explores symbols: how they are created and how they acquire power. Students will also explore what it means to wear a mark or a symbol on the body.

Week 4: i-Consume
Students will investigate where power exists in relation to the economy and how it affects them on a personal level. Using spoof ads and contemporary art images students will use strategies of irony and juxtaposition to create their own visual commentary on power and consumption.

Weeks 5-8:
Talk Back
This lesson is designed to explore meaningful exchange in the public domain in order to address social change. Students will examine unfair power dynamics they have experienced in their lives and visually ‘talk back’ utilizing a public context.