Create an Abstract Dreamscape
In this activity, you will create an art piece inspired by the work of Bernice Bing.
Objective: Students will consider how public art promotes civic participation and social commentary by 1) researching Bay Area public art and completing research assignments or 2) submitting grant proposals for hypothetical public art.
Andrea, 1968, by Ruth Asawa (American, 1926–2013). Photograph by Nick Amoscato. CC BY 2.0
“Art is for everybody. It is not something that you should have to go to the museums in order to see and enjoy.” —Ruth Asawa
5.VA:Cn11: Identify how art is used to inform or change beliefs, values, or behaviors of an individual or society.
6.VA:Re7.2: Analyze ways that visual components and cultural associations suggested by images influence ideas, emotions, and actions.
K.MA:Cr1: Discover and share ideas for media artworks using play and/or experimentation.
6.MA:Cn11: Research and show how media artworks and ideas relate to personal life, and social, community, and cultural situations, such as personal identity, history, and entertainment.
Acc.MA:Cn11: Critically investigate and proactively interact with legal, technological, systemic, and vocational contexts of media arts, considering civic values, media literacy, digital identity, and artist/audience interactivity.
6-12.SL.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade-appropriate topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
SL.8.5: Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
How can public art preserve the history, struggles, and achievements of individuals and groups and be used as a form of civic participation?
Public art is not an art “form.” Its size can be huge or small. It can tower 50 feet high or call attention to the paving beneath your feet. Its shape can be abstract or realistic (or both), and it may be cast, carved, built, assembled, or painted. It can be site-specific or stand in contrast to its surroundings.
What distinguishes public art is the unique association of how it is made, where it is, and what it means. Public art can express community values, enhance our environment, transform a landscape, heighten our awareness, or question our assumptions. This is art for everyone, anytime.
Adapted from Bach, Penny Balkin. “Public Art in Philadelphia.” Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.
Student Questions for Research Paper or Presentation
Alternate Project: Submit a Grant Proposal for a Hypothetical Public Art Work
Follow steps 1–5 in the lesson plan procedure.
Begin with a discussion about current social problems. Activate prior classroom knowledge and reference previous conversations about social justice topics.
Prepare students to think of a topic they will want the artwork to address. Brainstorm: