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Exploring American Ideals in Art

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Language Arts And English +5 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old), Post-Secondary

How can American ideals be defined and expressed in different ways? The United States of America is associated the ideals of Democracy, Rights, Liberty, Opportunity, and Equality. Those values have served as sources of inspiration for artists as goals that the nation aspires to (even if they are not always achieved). This collection contains artworks inspired by one or more of the ideals listed above. Students should choose a work and identify which ideal it relates to: Democracy, Rights, Liberty, Opportunity, and Equality.

In a short essay based on the artwork, students should answer the following questions:

-How would the student define Democracy, Rights, Liberty, Opportunity, or Equality?

-What is the artist trying to communicate about how this idea plays out in America?

-Does the student agree or disagree with the artist's interpretation?

If desired, students could create their own artwork based on one of the American ideals.

George Washington

Smithsonian American Art Museum

The nation's Capitol seen through the slums

National Museum of American History

Shimomura Crossing the Delaware

National Portrait Gallery

The March of Democracy

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Identification Manual

Smithsonian American Art Museum

We Shall Overcome

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Statue of Liberty

Smithsonian American Art Museum

SOB, SOB

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Statue of Liberty Quilt

Smithsonian American Art Museum

E Pluribus Unum

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Washington Resigning His Commission

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Jackpot Machine

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Children on a Fence, (painting)

Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums