Symbolism and the Art of David Zayas

Lesson Activities & Lesson Plans

To begin the Lesson Activity please scroll down. If you are a teacher looking for the associated Lesson Plan, please click below.

Worksheet

2. Look closely at the David's mural. List three to five things in the mural that you think might be symbols.
Before you answer the next two questions, watch this interview with David Zayas where he talks about his mural:

MM slash DD slash YYYY
Have you seen any of the murals in Lynn before?
Does studying the murals make you want to go and see them in person?
Do you think having murals in the city makes it special?
Did the mural(s), the symbolism, or the artist’s story make you think about your life and experiences?
If you have any questions or need assistance, email admin@beyond-walls.org

Symbolism and the Art of David Zayas

About this lesson

For this lesson, students will learn about the power of art to express oneself and culture. Students will learn this by examining the public art in Puerto Rico, specifically the art of Puerto Rican artist, David Zayas. Students will then apply this same lens to themselves, reflecting on the things that make up their own identity and creating a work of art that illustrates these things using symbolism. 

For a more in depth background information on the lesson topics, questions and pointers to help guide class discussions, links to videos to show in class, and lesson worksheets, among other things, download the unit guide below. You can also download an accompany PowerPoint for this lesson below.

Objectives

Students will be able to…

1. Define symbols and symbolism

2. Identify symbols in their daily lives

3. Discuss the multiple facets that make up one’s identity

4. Express their identity and cultural heritage through art

Standards

Visual Arts

Creating

  • Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work. (5-6.V.Cr.01)
  • Organize and develop artistic ideas and work. (5-6.V.Cr.02)
  • Refine and complete artistic work. (5-6.V.Cr.03.a-b)

Presenting

  • Select, analyze and interpret artistic work for presentation. (5-6.V.P.04)
  • Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.(5-6.V.P.05)
  • Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work. (5-6.V.P.06)

Connecting

  • Relate artistic ideas and works to societal, cultural and historical contexts to deepen understanding. (5-6.M.Co.11)

 

English Language Arts

Text Types and Purposes

  • Write arguments (e.g., essays, letters to the editor, advocacy speeches) to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence. (W.6.1.a-e)

Production and Distribution of Writing

  • Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (W.6.4)

Comprehension and Collaboration

  • Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. (SL.6.1)
  • Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study. (SL.6.2)

Knowledge of Language

  • Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening. (L.6.3)

Extension activities for ELA standards are included below and in the unit guide.

Vocabulary

Symbol

Symbolism

Materials

Paper

Markers/crayons/colored pencils

 

Lesson Procedures

For this lesson, students will learn about the power of art to express oneself and culture. Students will learn this by examining the public art in Puerto Rico, specifically the art of Puerto Rican artist, David Zayas. Students will then apply this same lens to themselves, reflecting on the things that make up their own identity and creating a work of art that illustrates these things using symbolism.

For a more in depth background information on the lesson topics, questions and pointers to help guide class discussions, links to videos and PowerPoints to show in class, and lesson worksheets, among other things, read the unit guide

1. Briefly discuss the history of Puerto Rico. In this step, make sure to cover the blending of European, African, and Taino cultures that arose due to colonialism. While there is no singular definition of Puerto Rican identity, if you ask the locals, they will agree that the most meaningful descriptions rely on what they call nuestro arte y cultura (our arts and culture).

2. Ask students to consider their own identity. What ideas, things, cultures, etc. do they identify with? On a blank sheet of paper, have students write down three to five things that make up their identity. Afterwards, have the class stand up and move around the room, stopping at every desk and reading what their classmates have written. Students will make a tally mark next to each item they also identify with. In this exercise, students will learn what they have in common with their classmates, creating a sense of community. Tell students to keep their list as they will use it in a later activity.

3. Introduce students to the Santurce neighborhood of San Juan, the arts and cultural capital of Puerto Rico, by showing them this video

4. Introduce students to the artist David Zayas, who relies on symbolism in his art to relay messages to the viewer.

5. Discuss symbolism and symbols by showing examples in class

6. Show students David’s mural “Oro Rumbo” and have them fill out the accompanying worksheet.

7. Introduce students to the art activity for this lesson. For this activity, have students pull out the list they created earlier in this lesson about the facets of their identity. Inform students that they will create a work of art that illustrates who they are using both the mural by David Zayas and their list as an aid. For more instruction on this activity, including a description and criteria, refer to the unit guide

Extension Activities

Extension for English Language Arts

W.6.2

Have students write a narrative essay about a time in their life when they were faced with an obstacle that they had to ‘fight’ to overcome. For this essay, students will come up with a single symbol that represents every item on the list they created earlier. Students must write about their obstacle from the perspective of the object/thing they chose as their symbol for their identity. To help, remind students of Zayas’ mural and how the rooster represents the fighting spirit of the girl.

Assessment

If you follow the unit guide, assessment is conducted regularly throughout the lesson in the form of group discussions and activities.

For alternatives, go to the resources section of the unit guide. This will take you to a document with a comprehensive list of assessment options. Though they are geared more towards Visual Arts, they can be altered or used for other curriculums, such as ELA and Science/Technology.

Exit slips are also a great strategy for assessment at the end of a lesson. For these slips, have students respond to the following questions:

Write one thing you learned today.
Write one question you have about today’s lesson.
Did you enjoy the lesson activities?

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