Resistance, Resilience and Pride

Resistance, resilience and pride. These are three core ideas being explored in this year’s second grade art curriculum around empowered women artists of color.

In a collaboration with the social studies curriculum, second graders have been learning about women of color in the art world who have done amazing things. The current art project has them diving into the history of Maya Lin, the artist-architect of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The students read Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey and learned how Maya’s design was chosen out of 1,421 entries when she was still in college. They heard her voice through a video describing her struggle to resist gender stereotypes, ageism, and discrimination as an Asian woman in male-dominated world. The students also talked about the importance of resilience when they learned that Maya had to stand strong against months of public hearings where people objected to her design, said it looked too simple and was disrespectful to veterans.

The students discussed being proud of their vision—just as Maya Lin believed in her vision in the face of so much pressure. She had a passion for art, architecture and the environment and combined all those things in her career. The second graders were thrilled to realize they had seen “What Is Missing?” a permanent installation at the California Academy of Sciences raising awareness about the global crisis surrounding biodiversity and habitat loss. It brought her art from the screen to life as they began to bring their own ideas into the world!
Using their new understanding of Maya Lin’s history and artistic process, the students were asked to collaborate in groups on a site-specific installation. It could be a sculpture, memorial or installation. Needless to say, there were many discussions and debates and a great deal of collaboration to get to the final concepts! A few of the pieces are “Dragon Theater”, “Amazement Park”, “Remembering Art” and “Animal Care Home”. They used recycled materials, delegated tasks and roles, considered structural challenges, and constructed the final design out of paper mache. Next, they painted their creations white with the idea of pitching the designs to an architecture firm, museum, or government agency. Click here to see photos of the artists at work!
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.

Katherine Delmar Burke School

An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415.751.0177 Fax: 415.666.0535
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