Before beginning the lesson, you will need a large canvas or wall, pencils, paint, paintbrushes, sketching paper, and plenty of space for students to paint standing upright.
Diego Rivera, a well known artist of post-impressionism, often depicts stories in his art. He was influenced heavily by the communist party and Aztec art. He is famous, in part, to his large murals. As a nod to the Diego Rivera art form you will have your class create a mural. The trick to this art lesson is finding a theme that both you and the students can get behind. Below is Rivera’s depiction of Mexican history. This can serve as a template for your students as they discuss a theme they would like to depict.
Choosing a Theme
You can have the students choose the theme, or give them a list of themes to choose from. Some themes that may be less controversial include; the history of the school, modern dance, music, the history of technology, movies, actors, etc.
Have students form into groups and choose an influential theme. Each group will begin by sketching their part of the wall before transferring it to the larger canvas. Since the students are working in groups you will need to make sure that they are all receiving equal space on the mural. You can do this by giving them all an equal sized piece of paper that they can sketch on. That sketch will later be transferred, in its exact size, onto the canvas, or wall. The more cohesive the theme, the more sense the story will make.
The Mural Process
Once your students have their singular sheets completed have them turn in the sketches to you. The mural is going to take multiple class periods to complete. It is best for you to hold onto the sketches of those students that haven’t completed yet. You determine whether or not the sketch is acceptable. Once you have received an acceptable sketch from a student allow them to begin painting on the mural. Allow only a set number of students to be at the mural to avoid bumping and confusion. When most students have finished their painting on the mural you will most likely notice white space between students’ sketches. Have a volunteer fill in those gaps with a color you choose.
Once the mural is complete have your students talk about what it means to them. Come up with a cohesive statement about the mural and its title. When everyone has an idea about what they think the mural represents invite other classes, teachers, and administrators to view the artwork and talk about it with the students. Have your students share their experience creating the mural with others.
National mural / wikimedia commons / ThelmaDatter / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RiveraMuralNationalPalace.jpg
Frida and Diego / wikimedia commons / Kelson / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frida_Kahlo_Diego_Rivera_1932.jpg
Aztec / Wikimedia Commons/Wolfgang Sauber /https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Murales_Rivera_-_Indianer_vor_Tenochtitlan.jpg