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Exploring Ava DuVernay's "Selma": History as Visual Culture

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Civics +4 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

The guiding questions of this Learning Lab are

  • What is visual art’s connection to historical events? Why is it important that we recognize these connections?
  • What does studying art add to our understanding of historical events and time periods?

The goals of this Learning Lab are

  • Bridge the gap in understanding between art analysis and historical analysis
  • Explore the inherent ties between art pieces and their surrounding historical context
  • Introduce the foundations of formal art analysis and develop close looking skills for visual art pieces

If you are new to Learning Lab, visit https://learninglab.si.edu/help/getting-started to learn how to get started!

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Special thanks to National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), the National Museum of American History (NMAH), Smithsonian Folkways, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) for inspiring this learning lab and for their resources.

Keywords: Portraiture, African American, American, Selma, Alabama, visual art, Civil Rights Movement, United States, visual literacy

Life Magazine, March 19, 1965

National Museum of American History

Pre-1965

Ashleigh Coren

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

National Portrait Gallery

Fred T. Korematsu

National Portrait Gallery

Asa Philip Randolph

National Portrait Gallery

Marian Anderson

National Portrait Gallery

Rosa Parks

National Portrait Gallery

Charlayne Hunter-Gault

National Portrait Gallery

Mahalia Jackson

National Portrait Gallery

John R. Lewis

National Portrait Gallery

Medgar Evers and Roy Wilkins

National Portrait Gallery

Myrlie Louise Evers-Williams

National Portrait Gallery

LBJ - President Signs Civil Rights Bill

National Portrait Gallery

Bayard Rustin

National Portrait Gallery

James Farmer

National Portrait Gallery

Andrew Goodman

National Portrait Gallery

James Chaney

National Portrait Gallery

Michael Schwerner

National Portrait Gallery

Odetta

National Portrait Gallery

Selma

Ashleigh Coren

Disgusting

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Young Marcher, Selma to Montgomery March

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Photographic print of a man with “Vote” face paint in the Selma-Montgomery march

National Museum of African American History and Culture

John Doar

National Museum of American History

The Selma to Montgomery March, March 21 - 25

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Joan Baez, Selma to Montgomery March, 1965

National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Edmund Pettus Bridge

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Sunshine

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Fannie Lou Hamer

National Portrait Gallery

Lord Hold My Hand While I Run This Race

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Am I Not A Man And A Brother?

National Portrait Gallery

Leonard Crow Dog

National Portrait Gallery

See/Think/Wonder: Project Zero Visible Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

Think / Puzzle / Explore: Project Zero Visible Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

Beauty and Truth: Project Zero Global Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

Webinar

Ashleigh Coren