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Sharing Culture and Making Connections with Visual Art

News - Aug 30, 2021

In June this year, our Year 8 Visual Art students embarked on project to showcase their own individual culture through art and poetry. Inspired by the artist, Brian Robinson, students designed and printed lino prints that shared a story and insight into their individual culture. 

To celebrate the creation and completion of the students’ work, staff, parents, and grandparents were invited for a special showcase and celebration of the Sharing Culture unit. Each student wrote a short Dr Seuss style rhyme to accompany the image which was compiled into a class book ‘Sharing Our Culture’. Students led the launch, giving speeches, running a lino printing demonstration, and a competitive game of Mr Squiggle!

Visual Art Teacher, Megan Devlin, explains the inspiration for the idea and how it fits into the students’ wider studies of Visual Art:

The Sharing Culture unit continues from the Country and Place unit introduced in Year 7 and prompts students to reflect on and research their own culture and family stories. It’s one of my favourite units, as students often start out thinking that they "don’t have a culture" which grows to an enthusiasm and excitement for sharing their stories. 

This idea is one that generated an inspirationally collaborative effort from the students. When asked about the response from parents, Ms Devlin credits the students’ enthusiasm for one another’s culture as the driving force in receiving such a positive response from them and their families.

The response to turning the students’ lino prints into a printed book was overwhelmingly positive. Some students initially balked at creating words and rhymes to accompany their images - ‘Why are we doing English in Art!?’ But, by pairing students who enjoyed creating the rhymes and wordplay with those that found it difficult we ended up with a lovely collaborative process. The final launch party was a great way to connect parents to their students’ school lives and really celebrate the success of our finished book.

The success of the unit is reflected in the passion exhibited by the students involved, with some admitting they had no idea their own class was so diverse.

I learned a lot about other people’s cultures, and I never knew that we had so many different countries and cultures in our year group. I got to see how others see their culture in all different ways. For example, some prints were more abstract and some more realistic, and that lead to a very broad lot of images which I loved (Nina).

I definitely learned a lot from all the artwork on display, especially that our class is a very diverse place. Everyone had so much to say about their country, culture, and family. All the students seemed to so eager to share their stories. I also learned that most of the boys are in some form or another crazy about motocross, motorbikes, or something with ‘wheels’! (Ginger).

When asked what the biggest take was away from the project and book launch was, students and parents definitely corresponded on the same issues – having a space wherein students could feel appreciated and safe being able to express themselves, with the knowledge of what they were displaying was being celebrated.

Whilst planning my linocut, my main focus was to weave into the design where I came from, where I am now, and how my experiences have affected my outlook on life. I wanted to say that I belong in two realms, no matter how far apart they may be: I included my own silhouette as not to forget how our roots, countries, and cultures shape us – how a small ‘Winter Bloom’ has grown to become my sense of self, prospering on the other side of the world (Ginger).

I wanted the central theme to be about the cycle of nature. I choose the beach theme as I have always loved the beach and have grown up with it (this connects to my culture). The Ying and Yang in my lino print is trying to represent this. My rhyme is more about how much I enjoy the beach. I live really close to the beach and know how the weather and other things contribute to beach health. I also feel like I have a spiritual connection to it as I have grown up with it and still to this day it is a huge part of my life (Nina).

The finished artwork was so personal and unique we were proud to be a part of it. The artwork Zoe made is like an emblem of her family culture, it is strong yet free-flowing with ties to nature with the greens mixed with love seen the pink tones. Much like our family. Zoe's uplifting piece is so inspiring I suggested she enter it into the Next Generation Art competition as it reflects on Zoe's culture and heritage (Tabitha – Parent).

The Sharing Culture unit and the incorporation of the printed book were a tremendous success. The addition of families being involved to share in the students’ perceptions of their own culture, added a special layer of involvement that the Grace Caboolture campus is well known for.

The class really rose to the challenge of organising the launch party – I honestly couldn’t have done it without them. Special mention to Deegan for designing the cover, Azalea and Andrea for invitations to parents and staff, Willow and Lizzie who were the MC’s and organised activities and demonstrations during the event. Nearly everyone in the class pitched in and helped in some way – bringing food, setting up the classroom, handing out materials and cleaning up. They all really impressed me in their maturity and responsibility (Ms Devlin).

To learn more about the Creative Industries program at pro Caboolture, explore our Curriculum Guides.

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