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And Justice for All

School: Tapestry Charter School (K-12)

City/State: Buffalo, NY

Grade(s): 11

Format(s): Photography

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Social Studies, Visual Arts

Project Overview: 

Students in 11th grade at Tapestry Charter High School created this project during a trimester-long study of constitutional rights and social justice in American history. The learning expedition centered around the question of whether the Declaration of Independence, which set forth a vision of what this country was to be – a society of equals equipped with unalienable rights, holding the power to direct government – is living up to its founding ideals. By exploring the gaps between this ideal and reality, students were able to make connections between history and present life in America and in their community. 

Guiding questions for the expedition include:

  • What are the gaps between American ideals and reality?
  • Is American a society of equals?
  • Do we live in a true democracy?
  • Do we have all the rights we deserve?
  • What rights and responsibilities are defined in the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution and how are they manifest in contemporary America?

For this project, one of several art projects created during the expedition, students created tableaus based on their exploration of American ideals in English and US History. The tableaus where photographed and then converted into silhouettes in Photoshop. This project encourages students to see what reducing people, objects and things down to simple forms and shapes can do.  The result is a series of powerful images that investigate whether or not there is a gap between ideals and reality by using examples from current issues that affect our society today.

Students exhibited their work at CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, NY. The event also included live performances of a living tableau entitled “The Space Between Ideals and Realities.” 

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