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Searching for Freedom - Matisse Cards

School: Genesee Community Charter School

City/State: Rochester, NY

Grade(s): 5

Format(s): Note cards

Subject(s): Social Studies, Visual Arts

Project Overview

These note cards were created by 5th graders from the Genesee Community Charter School as part of a Learning Expedition on slavery called “Searching for Freedom.”

Students created these vibrantly colored cards by creating silhouettes of each other as they modeled physical expressions of slavery and freedom. GCCS incorporates visual arts, music and movement into every expedition. The movement teacher worked with students to create body movement related to issues of freedom and slavery, and the visual arts teacher worked on the Matisse Cut-Out style graphic presentation of those movements and body shapes.

Other aspects of this expedition included study of prominent people in the struggle against slavery who were local to the Rochester area, including Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. Students more broadly also learned about the conditions of slavery in the United States. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Exemplifies how a product without text can be both appealing and worthwhile – the power of human images, color and format is striking
  • Cards are evocative and still are quite obviously created by students
  • Reflects a unique combination of artwork, history and emotional connection to content
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