An Art Lesson on Community Roles-- Recognizing Community Members Through Art

An Art Lesson on Community Roles-- Recognizing Community Members Through Art
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Conceptual Basis for Lesson:

Elementary students will study the members that make up a community and realize the importance of the different roles through symbolism and composition. They will create an image that portrays an important member of their community and explain in writing the reasons behind their selection.

Relation to the Series:

Part of the series: My Community. While the first lesson introduced students to the idea of community and the different roles that exist, this project will help them transfer what they learned into representational works of art.

Art Materials:

  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Pencils
  • Construction paper
  • Markers (assorted colors)

Other Materials: “Harriet and the Promised Land” by Jacob Lawrence, samples of artwork with foreground, middleground & background, samples of Lawrence’s work (see photos for some examples).


community - a group of people who live, work, and/or play together.

foreground - part of a landscape, picture, or photograph that is closest to the viewer.

middleground - part of a landscape, picture, or photograph where the foreground and background meet, visually.

background - part of a landscape, picture, or photograph that is the farthest from the viewer.


Ask students who they think is important in their community. All students have someone they look up to for different reasons. They should be able to recognize a person and explain what that person contributes to their community.


The lesson begins with the motivation (see above). The teacher may need to brainstorm with students to come up with members of their community and question the importance of their choices.

Students are read the story “Harriet and the Promised Land” followed by discussion about Harriet’s role in her community and how she made her community better.

Student Learning Activity:

The teacher will now go over foreground, middleground, and background with students. After explaining the concepts, students will view sample work and point out the different levels. Students are then told that they will be creating a piece of artwork depicting their selective community member within their every day work environment. Students will be incorporating foreground, middleground, and background within their work.

Jacob Lawrence’s style is bright and bold in color, shape, and pattern. Students will create their art by cutting out shapes using construction paper and markers to accent. Lawrence has many examples of work that would be appropriate for this lesson (See photo section) as they depict people at work.

Looking Ahead:

This lesson focused on members in their (student’s) community-the next part of the series will have students examine what role they play in the community and how important they are. This will be accomplished through a self-portrait project.

Artist & Teacher Example

J. Lawrence-The Seamstress

J. Lawrence-The Barber

Teacher Example


  • Teaching experience; photos ownership of the author.

This post is part of the series: My Community

The idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts is an important concept in history and the world. Through numerous lessons students will produce artwork expressing their individuality as well as specific information about their community and where they fit in.

  1. A Role Playing Lesson on Community Helpers
  2. An Art Lesson to Recognize Our Community Members
  3. Self-Portrait for the Cover of a Community Paper: Lesson & Art Project
  4. Create Community Postcards: Elementary Art Activity
  5. Making a Classroom Flag