Teaching the Past, Creating the Future: Black History Month Art Lessons (2024)

Inside: A collection of posts and resources with artworks by Black artists, civil rights art, African art, art projects, book suggestions, and more to teach Black History art lessons.

Teaching the Past, Creating the Future: Black History Month Art Lessons (1)

When students are exposed to a variety of works of art, they learn about the world and themselves. Children deserve to see the wide variety of possibilities in art, both in terms of art making and the artists behind the works.

Black History Month is a time to discuss the history and celebrate the contributions of Black culture and individuals. These lessons should not be kept solely in the history classroom.Looking at art helps students develop empathy, flex thinking and observation skills, connect with history, get in touch with their creative side, and savor the human spirit. Black History Month offers art teachers a fantastic opportunity to feature Black artists and artworks about Black history in their classroom.

To support art teachers and ensure that they have a variety of artworks to choose from, this post is a collection of Black History Month art lessons from Art Class Curator, all of which you’ll find links to below. Most of the posts include looking questions, tips, information, and resources to help you teach the works of art.

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The more time students spend looking at art, the easier it is for them to explore the narratives, techniques, and meanings behind the artworks. Take learning to a deeper level with a ready-to-go art lessons from theArt Appreciation Worksheet Bundle.

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!
1. Pick a Black history artwork below
2. Print one of the Art Appreciation Worksheets
3. Watch with joy as your students connect with and interpret art

Teaching the Past, Creating the Future: Black History Month Art Lessons (3)

Free Worksheets

8 Free Art Appreciation Worksheets

includes the Elements & Principles!

Download 8 Free Art Appreciation Worksheets – including 2 Elements and Principles pages! Activities designed to work with almost any work of art. Help your students connect with art while having fun!

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This list of Black history month art lessons is of course not a full representation of all Black artists. These are the artists we have written about to date on Art Class Curator. We will update this post as we create new resources!

Black Artists

Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley is an American artist known for his powerful portraits of African Americans. He was chosen to paintBarack Obama’s official presidential portrait in 2018.

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Kehinde Wiley Art Lesson

Wiley is best known for painting young Black people, often placing them in into versions of portraits from art history. His paintings fuse the past and present in ways that force us to confront our notions of wealth, importance, race, and gender. In this lesson, put a Wiley artwork next to the artwork is was inspired by and lead an art discussion. This Kehinde Wiley Art Lesson blog post includes discussion questions, interpretation activities, as well as classroom extensions.

Lesson: Portraits for a New Century: Kehinde Wiley Art Lesson

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Betye Saar

Betye Saar is an American artist known for her assemblage and collage artworks.

Betye Saar Art Lesson

Saar uses stereotypical and potentially-offensive material to make social commentary, which makes her work an excellent way to teach kids about the world, acceptance, and empathy. In this lesson, students discuss an assemblage Saar created around a depiction of Aunt Jemima and watch a video of the artist discussing the work. This Betye Saar Art Lesson also includes several project ideas and extensions.

Lesson: The Liberation of Aunt Jemima

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Augusta Savage

Augusta Savage was an American sculptor and prominent member of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City. She opened her own studio and became an influential teacher.

Augusta Savage Art Lesson

There have been few sculptors who can capture emotion in a subject like Augusta Savage. In this Augusta Savage Art Lesson, students learn about her life, discuss some of her work, and read In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor.

Lesson: The Art of Augusta Savage
Artist Biography

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Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold is an award-winning American painter, writer, sculptor, and performance artist. She is best known for her narrative quilts.

Faith Ringgold Art Lesson

Ringgold started out as a painter and focused much of her art on telling the stories of the Civil Rights Movement and her experiences growing up in Harlem. On a trip to Europe in 1972, Ringgold experiences some Nepali artworks that used fabrics around the border. This inspired her to start making quilt paintings, and those are the artworks she’s become best known for. In this Faith Ringgold Art Lesson, students dive into Ringgold’s The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles and imagine what it would be like to be the fictional woman featured in the artwork. To extend the lesson, students complete a portrait project and read Dinner at Aunt Connie’s House or one of Ringgold’s other children’s books.

Lesson: Faith Ringgold’s Celebration of African American Women
Artist Biography

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Ed Johnetta Miller

Ed Johnetta Miller is is a renowned American fiber artist, quilter, and teacher who regularly works within her community. Her work is often inspired by color, patterns, and jazz music.

Ed Johnetta Miller Art Lesson

One of Miller’s community art projects was an improvisational quilt completed with the children and families of Yale New Haven’s Children’s Hospital.

Lesson: Community Art Project Inspired by Ed Johnetta Miller

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Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden was an American artist and author who created cartoons, oil paintings, and collages. He grew up in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance.

Romare Bearden Art Lesson

Featured in Multicultural Kid Blogs, this Romare Bearden Art Lesson recaps Bearden’s life, explores his art, and includes a collection of projects, books, and lessons.

Lesson: The Art of Romare Bearden

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Henry Ossawa Tanner

Henry Ossawa Tanner was a world-renowned American artist best known for his religious artworks.

Henry Ossawa Tanner Art Lesson

This Henry Ossawa Tanner Art Lesson features several artworks from the man who was “one of the first African-American artists to achieve a reputation in both America and Europe”. Six of Tanner’s artworks are presented for use with the Charlotte Mason Picture Study Technique.

Lesson: Henry Ossawa Tanner
Artist Biography

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Yinka Shonibare

Yinka Shonibare is a British-Nigerian artist whose work delves into cultural identities, colonialism, and globalisation. He is best known for his sculptural installations.

Yinka Shonibare Art Lesson

The Swingis Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s best known work and is an icon of the Rococo style.Shonibare recreated the famous artwork and gave us a lot to think about regarding race, class, and multiculturalism. In this Yinka Shonibare Art Lesson, students compare and contrast the two artworks.

Lesson:

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Prince Twins Seven-Seven

Prince Twins Seven-Seven was a Nigerian painter, musician, actor, writer, and poet. He was named a UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2005.

Prince Twins Seven-Seven Art Lesson

In this Prince Twins Seven-Seven Art Lesson, students consider his Healing of Abiko Children, watch a video of the artist discussing the artwork, and can read a book about his art and life.

Lesson: Twins Seven-Seven’s Healing of Abiko Children

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Black History Month Art Projects

The internet outside of Art Class Curator has lots of great Black history month art lessons as well! Check out these links.

Children’s Books about Black Artists

This collection of highly rated children’s books about Black artists are a wonderful way to share information about the lives of Black artists with elementary students. Each book is marked with recommended student ages and a link to purchase the book.

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Famous Black Artists Biographies

Integrate historical and cultural knowledge into your Black History Month art lessons with in-depth biographies and short videos about famous Black artists.

Civil Rights Art

Art is such a vital tool to understanding the emotions, beliefs, and ideas of people throughout history. Art gives us insights into people like no other medium can. Consider using artworks about the Civil Rights era from the collections below for your Black History Month art lessons.

  • Civil Rights Art
  • More Civil Rights Movement Art
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Black History Month Art Lessons

From native African art to modern artworks by Black artists from around the world, these pieces will get your students talking and connected to art.

African American Artists

  • Portraits for a New Century: Kehinde Wiley Art Lesson
  • The Liberation of Aunt Jemima
  • The Art of Augusta Savage
  • Faith Ringgold’s Celebration of African American Women
  • The Art of Romare Bearden
  • Henry Ossawa Tanner
  • Discrimination is Not ProtectionbyLornaSimpson
  • Ladder for Booker T. WashingtonbyMartinPuryear
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Black Artists from Around the World

  • Twins Seven-Seven’s Healing of Abiko Children

African Art

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  • Art Around the World in 30 Days – Angola — This African Art Lesson features a sculpture from the Chokwe people of Northeastern Angola with discussion questions, a learning activity, and museum resources.
  • Art Around the World in 30 Days – Nigeria — The artwork in this African Art Lesson comes from the Court of Benin and includes discussion questions, a project idea, and several resources covering the history of the Kingdom of Benin.
  • Interpreting the Power of the Kongo Nkisi N’Kondi — A fantastic African Sculpture Art Lesson for middle schoolers to explore the meaning, function, and purpose of the Nkisi N’Kondi sculptures, complete with discussion questions, kinesthetic and drawing activities, a PowerPoint, and information on the history of these intriguing figures.
  • Art Around the World in 30 Days – Democratic Republic of the Congo — Focused on a contemporary artwork from artist Trigo Piula, this African Art Lesson ties in with the Nkisi N’Kondi Art Lesson above and includes discussion questions and a project idea.
  • Kuba Mask — This Wordless Wednesday post includes resources related to mask from the Kuba Kingdom, a pre-colonial kingdom in Central Africa.

Wordless Wednesdays for Black History Month Art Lessons

Wordless Wednesday posts on Art Class Curator offer artworks with little to no commentary. The artworks in these posts make for excellent bellringers when paired with an art appreciation worksheet or questions about art.

  • Ladder for Booker T. Washington
  • Discrimination is Not Protection
  • Kuba Mask

Teaching Black History Month Art Lessons

Sometimes teachers shy away from teaching about other cultures or difficult historical periods, but doing so robs our students of the opportunity to dialogue about important social issues and connect with art on a deeply personal level. The post below addresses some of these issues and why it is important to teach art from across cultures and time.

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In this lesson, students learn how ethnocentric attitudes can shape how we look at art from other cultures, especially when studying non-Western art. Using three examples from the art world, high school or college students examine cultural reactions to art and how xenophobia shapes worldviews through classroom discussions and writing assignments.

Lesson: Cultural Sensitity,Xenophobia, and Ethnocentricism in Art Education

More Art Lessons

  • 5 Women Artists of Color with Learning Activities
  • 10 Intriguing Ancient Artworks from Around the World

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As an expert and enthusiast, I don't have personal experiences or beliefs, but I can provide you with information on the concepts mentioned in this article. Here's a breakdown of the different concepts discussed:

Black History Month:

Black History Month is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and other countries to recognize and celebrate the achievements and contributions of African Americans and their impact on history. It is typically observed in February in the United States and October in Canada. During this month, various events, activities, and educational programs are organized to promote awareness and understanding of Black history and culture.

Art Education and Black History Month:

The article emphasizes the importance of incorporating art education into Black History Month lessons. It suggests that exposing students to a variety of artworks can help them learn about the world, develop empathy, improve observation skills, connect with history, and nurture their creativity. By featuring Black artists and artworks related to Black history, art teachers can provide students with a broader perspective and a deeper understanding of the contributions of Black culture and individuals.

Black Artists:

The article highlights several Black artists and provides resources for art lessons centered around their work. Here are some of the artists mentioned:

  1. Kehinde Wiley: Kehinde Wiley is an American artist known for his powerful portraits of African Americans. He gained significant recognition for painting Barack Obama's official presidential portrait in 2018 [[1]].

  2. Betye Saar: Betye Saar is an American artist known for her assemblage and collage artworks. Her work often incorporates social commentary and provides an opportunity to teach children about acceptance and empathy [[2]].

  3. Augusta Savage: Augusta Savage was an American sculptor and influential member of the Harlem Renaissance. Her sculptures are known for their emotional depth and expression [[3]].

  4. Faith Ringgold: Faith Ringgold is an award-winning American painter, writer, sculptor, and performance artist. She is best known for her narrative quilts, which often depict scenes from the Civil Rights Movement and her experiences growing up in Harlem [[4]].

  5. Ed Johnetta Miller: Ed Johnetta Miller is a renowned American fiber artist, quilter, and teacher. Her work is often inspired by color, patterns, and jazz music. She has also been involved in community art projects [[5]].

  6. Romare Bearden: Romare Bearden was an American artist and author known for his cartoons, oil paintings, and collages. He was active during the Harlem Renaissance and his work reflects the cultural and social experiences of African Americans [[6]].

  7. Henry Ossawa Tanner: Henry Ossawa Tanner was an acclaimed American artist known for his religious artworks. He was one of the first African-American artists to achieve recognition in both America and Europe [[7]].

  8. Yinka Shonibare: Yinka Shonibare is a British-Nigerian artist whose work explores cultural identities, colonialism, and globalization. He is known for his sculptural installations [[8]].

  9. Prince Twins Seven-Seven: Prince Twins Seven-Seven was a Nigerian painter, musician, actor, writer, and poet. He was recognized as a UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2005 [[9]].

African Art:

The article also mentions the inclusion of African art in Black History Month art lessons. It provides resources for lessons on African art from different regions, such as Angola, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Kuba Kingdom. These lessons aim to introduce students to the rich artistic traditions and cultural heritage of Africa [[10]].

Civil Rights Art:

The article suggests incorporating artworks related to the Civil Rights Movement into Black History Month art lessons. By exploring artworks from this period, students can gain insights into the emotions, beliefs, and ideas of people who fought for civil rights. The article provides links to collections of Civil Rights Movement art for further exploration [[11]].

Art Projects and Children's Books:

The article offers additional resources for Black History Month art lessons, including art projects and children's books about Black artists. These resources provide hands-on activities and engaging materials to further enhance students' understanding and appreciation of Black art and culture [[12]].

I hope this breakdown of the concepts mentioned in the article is helpful to you. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask!

Teaching the Past, Creating the Future: Black History Month Art Lessons (2024)

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