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Black History Portraits

School: Meadow Brook High School

City/State: Chesterfield County, VA

Grade(s): 9, 10, 11, 12

Format(s): Visual arts

Subject(s): Visual Arts

Project Overview

This product represents the work of one student – in this case a student from Meadow Brook High School, Chesterfield County, Virginia. Each portrait depicts a figure from black history. The student who created these portraits was a talented artist who transformed his graffiti art skills into beautifully detailed and accurate, content-rich, representations of historical figures. He was recruited by the school to create these portraits for Black History Month. He spray-painted them freehand onto bed sheets, looking in each case at a small photograph for the image. It was a powerful message for the school to unite the out-of-school urban passion for graffiti – often seen as anti-school – and celebrate and harness this artist’s talent to honor black heroes for the school’s hallways.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Highlights a product that was highly engaging for one student and allowed that student’s skills to shine
  • Suggests possibilities for many high schools to harness the power of student graffiti artists for public good
  • The format is interesting and inexpensive – spray paint on bed sheets
  • Represents a bridge between outside of school art and exploration of academic content within school, and a bridge between street culture and school culture
  • Model of quality portraits; Notice the facial details in each portrait – stunning work
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