Political Messages through Symbols

The Big Idea:

How do artists use symbols, words, and actions to convey political or social beliefs? How are artists revolutionary?

Activity overview

Many artists make work that communicates their thoughts and feelings about the political issues of their time. This activity will give you a sense of the different ways artists have used individualized styles and visual symbols to create politically charged, thought-provoking works. You will then apply this knowledge by identifying your own personal symbols and creating a photographic montage or still life that communicates a political message.

Look closely

Click on each artist button at right to view detailed screens about the artist and his or her works. Be sure to click on all images, view all videos, read all documents, and use the zoom tool to look closely at the works of art.

In this activity you will:

  1. learn about Tina Modotti's use of symbols
  2. create a work of art with a political message
  3. participate in a class critique
  4. reflect on your work

You will be graded on:

  1. contribution to class discussion
  2. creativity, style, and composition of your photomontage or photographic still life
  3. participation in critique
  4. depth of understanding of reflection

New terms:

allegory, still life, symbol