Art From Haiti: Lesson Plans: Telling a Story with Symbols

Lesson Description

Objective: Students will take on another culture and share theirs by creating a piece of art using symbolisms from Haitian art coupled with other symbols as a form of expression.

Time required-1-2 weeks

Materials (teacher and student needed)

  • Art by Haitian artists
  • Multiple mediums for creating art
  • Books and other materials on art media, styles of art, and symbolism in art
  • Internet access
  • Image projection equipment


Anticipatory Set

Question the group to ascertain the students' prior knowledge of the country of Haiti and its people. Start by asking students if they can name where Haiti is located, tell how the people look, and what they know about the language spoken there. This conversation can segue into many other spin-off discussions including the tumultuous history of Haiti, such as events like the quake of 2010 and its aftermath within the country.

Guided Practice

List pertinent information shared and discovered on a board for note taking through class give-and-take.

Display pieces of art by Haitian artists (from the Internet, textbook, library or any other place you can find material). Art should include work directly from the country or other countries where Haitian artists have immigrated and created their pieces.

Delve into discussion of style, comparing and contrasting art from artists of different countries with those of Haitian background (again use the resources listed above to add variety using a few to a great many examples).

Inquire about the symbolism found in these pieces. Students should supply several answers to which you will require them to expound on the examples they have provided to keep for guidance when completing the project.

Connect the symbolism in art with culture by relating styles and emblematic elements to similarities among artists based on their culture. It is very important for students to see a direct connection between culture and Haitian art. One example to use is this Vodou flag.


Vodoun is very heavy in Haitian culture and often shows up in paintings, sculptures, and other works of art as a means to communicate certain ideas, beliefs, and values as an extension of the African roots carried and passed down by slaves brought over to the country by way of the transatlantic slave trade that created an admixture with Catholicism.

Here you will find a gallery of vodoun symbols.

Independent Practice

Tell students that they will be speaking to Haitian artists as in their independent assignment. Let them know that they will speak to them through their art by recreating or extending their art pieces with their own symbols, their own voice added to the work.

Students will need to take an artwork and a symbol to mesh each into their new artwork to tell their story of triumph and/or pain and to share their lifestyle, beliefs, values, goals and/or religion.


You will grade students on their ability use art symbolism, their own symbols and Haitian symbols to convey a message about their lives or their worlds. It will be easy to determine how well they have understood the lesson by how well they have taken elements of Haitian art and used them in their own pieces, sending at least one message.


Social Studies: Have students research Haitian artists living in the country during the earthquake that rocked and forever changed the country in early 2010 to learn of any new and future projects coming out of the area. The students will study symbolism used in these pieces as another installment or to create a new set of art from Haitian lesson plans.