The Aquaculture and Agriculture school my students attend has students from 25 different districts making it a diverse community of science-minded kids. English is not always the most popular subject. Additionally, the arts are not as prominent as in many other schools. I teach senior English and AP English Literature and Composition. Although at least some of this unit will be used with the AP Literature students, it is primarily written to cater to senior English students. I always incorporate art and performance in my course. Students inevitably dive in and enjoy the creative outlet. My students have shared that music has been key to getting through difficulties in their lives during the pandemic or otherwise. It inspired this idea of the healing power of art with the guiding text “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin. We will read “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin and Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. Some of the artwork we will look at includes works from Trenton Doyle Hancock, David Leggett, Nick Cave, Kara Walker, Zanele Muholi, Bisa Butler, and Yinka Shonibare.
The students will explore the literary and art materials to analyze their transformative and/or healing elements. Through this exploration, students will sharpen their own voices and find within themselves a cause worth expressing for, fighting for and/or healing from. They will work on creating playlists as we travel through the texts and artwork. They will also create a piece of artwork with an artist’s statement that we can publish in a magazine representing the whole class’s effort and aspirations.