Telling Community Stories: Although This Mural Experience Focused on New York City Stories, the Process Can Be Adapted to Any Locale

By Asher, Rikki; Gerwin, David et al. | School Arts, October 2002 | Go to article overview

Telling Community Stories: Although This Mural Experience Focused on New York City Stories, the Process Can Be Adapted to Any Locale


Asher, Rikki, Gerwin, David, Osborn, Terry A., School Arts


What do Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Helen Keller, Lena Horne, and Christopher Walken have in common? They all lived in Queens. The borough of Queens is significant to the history of migration and immigration in New York City. In the early 1900s, the borough had a population of 152,099. Currently, in 2002, the population estimate is more than 3 million.

The unique history of Queens is illustrated through the creation of Procession: A Mural About Migration and Immigration in Queens. Funded by a college grant, part of the curriculum for the Mural Painting Class included historical research and contemporary oral histories. Students incorporated this research into the mural-making process. Over a period of four months, eleven graduate art education students interviewed a diverse group of immigrants. They studied historical records of famous Queens residents and documented their stories as part of the process. Since most interviews came from family histories that went back two or three generations, the class gathered stories that spanned the past hundred years. These interviews led to the creation of original drawings and designs, which were then incorporated into a final full-scale rendering. The project offered the community a deeper understanding of the generations who came before us.

An Interdisciplinary Approach

The aesthetic challenge for students was to produce a professional and sophisticated work of public art that tells a collective story. Procedures included gathering oral histories of a cross section of people who represent the area, historical research, and design decisions. From the oral histories, students represented their impressions of immigration and migration through photographs, drawings, collage, and paintings. We shared in the strengths associated with interdisciplinary approaches for our students, most of whom were prospective teachers. Students utilized oral history methods from the social sciences, mural creation from fine arts, and communication skills from the foreign language classroom.

Pre-Service to Public School

Many of the New York City public school teachers who worked on this mural, are now using the mural experience in their own classrooms. At the elementary level, an after-school mural club works with the theme of famous African Americans who lived in the neighborhood; and a secondary level program uses murals as a framework for understanding the community through art and local history.

Although this mural experience focused on New York City stories, the process can be adapted to any locale. The following unit plan describes how the disciplines of art, foreign language, and social studies are taught through the examination of the mural-making process.

Art and History Connections

Oral history provides teachers with an opportunity to transform stale textbook stories into living lessons as the experiences of people known to students take center stage in the classroom. By generating documents that are their own primary sources, students create personal texts that balance the panorama of history in their textbooks. They compare the experiences of their interview subjects with the experiences described in textbooks. Thus, the use of personal stories not only promotes critical thinking, but also sparks an interest that may motivate further study, or help students obtain another perspective. The stories of those who migrated to the United States serve as material to be illuminated through artistic media.

Art and Foreign Language Connections

Language teachers spend considerable time studying the literature and culture of the languages they teach. Knowledge of aesthetics and artistic works are often a part of the language teacher's preparation. This makes language teachers excellent resources for culture-based interdisciplinary units. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Telling Community Stories: Although This Mural Experience Focused on New York City Stories, the Process Can Be Adapted to Any Locale
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.