| Andrew Miller

Death of the Oceans, the Lorax in 3D and Fire – Activism through Self Expression

How many times in your life do you get to set your art project on fire during class? For the students at New Vista High School, this teachable moment became a reality during the art presentations for their Activism Through Self Expression workshop.

Now that we have your attention, we’ll go back to the beginning. This quarter, students were asked to co-design a class around Cottonwood Institute’s change theory.

“Gift + Issue = Change. Every student has a gift and when they apply it to an issue they are passionate about, they will change themselves. That change will ripple out to their friends and family; their schools and communities; the environment; and the world.”

They decided that the best way to embody this  theory was to create their own original works of art. This process was both internal as students felt the emotions around their own relationship to the climate crisis and the empowerment they felt at being able to externalize this to a broader audience.

The students were appreciative both of the ability to co-design the class into something meaningful and powerful for them and that they had the freedom to figure out what activism through their art means to them. Rarely do they get an assignment that doesn’t have a rubric or a set of parameters placed on them by the teacher.

The work they created was powerful, poignant and timely.

NVHS Activism Through Self Expression Workshop

A painting highlighting the regenerative process of life and death

NVHS Activism Through Self Expression Workshop

Cami, sharing her project on ocean pollution

NVHS Activism Through Self Expression Workshop

Weston’s project, showing a litter-covered beach

NVHS Activism Through Self Expression Workshop

Scenes from the Lorax, made out of clay


Written by NVHS CAP Instructor Amy Atkins

See more photos and videos from the class here, including videos of one art project being set on fire!

Categories: New Vista High School

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