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Analyzing Works of Art to Interpret Hard History

Spiro Bolos
October 17, 2023

Analyzing Works of Art to Interpret Hard History

Presented at the National Council for Social Studies Conference in Nashville on December 2nd, 2023.

Explore "hard" history through the lens of art and photography. Two thematically similar eras of US History will be connected (Reconstruction through Civil Rights). Works by visual artists Kerry James Marshall, Alfredo Jaar, and photographer Gordon Parks will be featured, and participants will receive links to all worksheets and slides.

Participants will be able to enrich their US History curriculum with two lessons that challenge their students' analytical skills regarding artistic interpretations of difficult moments in American history.

Participants will simulate the classroom environment with a highly structured question and answer discussion format.

Participants will learn how contemporary art can reveal the past in novel ways and inspire discussion of current events.

Spiro Bolos

October 17, 2023
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Transcript

  1. Analyzing
    Works of Art
    to Interpret
    Hard History
    Spiro Bolos, Danny Rothschild,
    and Cassie Yoon
    ____________________
    New Trier High School

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  2. Professor Hasan Jeffries
    MOCHE: October, 2022
    Confronting ‘hard’ history
    o Definition
    o Our purpose

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  3. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    o Assumptions
    o Purpose

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  4. Gordon Parks

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  5. Gordon Parks
    for
    Life Magazine
    MLK funeral
    procession
    April 9, 1968

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  6. SEE, THINK, WONDER

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  7. “Behind the brown mules and an old
    farm wagon that creaked along the
    Atlanta streets, the procession of
    mourners extended beyond sight”

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  8. Alfredo Jaar,
    Life Magazine, April 19, 1968
    1995, three chromogenic prints,
    Smithsonian American Art Museum

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  9. “Nothing can be so deceiving
    as a photograph.” — Kafka

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  10. What is
    happening in
    this photo?

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  11. “I have seen many
    demonstrations in the
    South, but I have never
    seen anything so hostile
    and so hateful as I’ve
    seen here today.”

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  12. July 26, 1965
    Winnetka, Illinois

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  13. 0
    10
    20
    30
    40
    50
    60
    70
    80
    90
    100
    May, 1963 August, 1964 May, 1965 August, 1966 August, 2011
    Favorable Unfavorable
    “Views About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
    GALLUP POLL

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  14. “Why I Am Opposed to
    the War in Vietnam”
    Sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist
    Church on April 30, 1967

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  15. “Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Vietnam
    because I love America. I speak out against this
    war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in
    my heart, and, above all, with a passionate desire to
    see our beloved country stand as the moral example
    of the world. I speak out against this war because I
    am disappointed with America. And there can be
    no great disappointment where there is not
    great love. I am disappointed with our failure to
    deal positively and forthrightly with the triple evils
    of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism.”

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  16. “[A]fter giving the speech...King was dropped
    from Gallup’s annual list of the most admired
    Americans and was ridiculed by the New York
    Times, among too many others. Soon after, he
    was murdered.”
    — Robert Scheer, Truthdig.com

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  17. Is there someone alive today, having
    expressed an unpopular opinion, whom you
    believe will be looked upon more favorably
    by history than they are currently?
    Who would you name?

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  18. Kerry James Marshall
    o Assumptions
    o Purpose

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  19. Three ink-jet prints on paper in wooden artist’s frames with rhinestones 57 × 54¼ × 3”
    Kerry James Marshall, Heirlooms and Accessories

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  20. [content warning]

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  21. Thomas Shipp Abram Smith

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  22. Not pictured: Dr. James Cameron
    Photo by Lawrence Beitler on August 7, 1930

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  23. Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit”

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  24. Beitler post card, au verso

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  25. Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit”
    Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) 2023-24

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  26. Elgin, Illinois: May 19, 2016
    David Powers, “American Nocturne”

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  27. Elgin, Illinois: May 19, 2016

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  28. Elgin, Illinois: May 19, 2016

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  29. Elgin, Illinois: May 19, 2016

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  30. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
    Montgomery, Alabama

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  31. 2018: South Cumberland Elementary School, Crossville, TN

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  32. What values do
    institutions
    communicate
    through their
    displays of art?

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  33. What values are
    communicated by
    an institution
    through its
    displays of art?

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  34. What values are
    communicated by
    an institution
    through its
    displays of art?

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  35. “Hey, that’s our school.”
    What values are
    communicated by
    an institution
    through its
    displays of art?

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  36. Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s address on the removal of Confederate monuments, 5/19/17

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  37. Analyzing
    Works of Art
    to Interpret
    Hard History
    Spiro Bolos, Danny Rothschild,
    and Cassie Yoon
    ____________________
    New Trier High School

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  38. All materials available at
    www.spirobolos.com

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