Inside: In this art lesson, students analyze an artwork by Molly Crabapple and discuss how it relates to self-confidence and contemporary culture. Paired with art-inspired self esteem activities for kids where students compliment one another, they’ll discover the power of words.
Our students’ self-worth is under attack. Social media allows bullying and harassment to take place out of the sight of parents and teachers. Taunts and insults can be hurled with the press of a button, leaving little room to consider the consequences or the humanity of the person receiving the abuse. There is no escape because the places and times that were once safe spaces are now invaded by gadgets that we never turn off.
In this cultural climate, it’s easy for educators to feel powerless to help. But we can help with art-inspired self esteem activities for kids. Looking at art can be a healing, empathy-inducing experience for an entire class. Molly Crabapple’s Portraits of myself and Lola Montes with things said about us by our contemporaries is a powerful, transfixing two-sided sculpture that confronts these issues directly.
One side features a self-portrait of Molly Crabapple annotated with things written about her on the internet and the other side is a portrait of Lola Montez covered by the words of her critics.
The mingled themes of dehumanization, self-confidence, intimidation, and the power of words that pervade this sculpture will resonate with your students, which makes it a perfect piece with which to create self esteem activities for kids. Below are some discussion questions that will help your students explore this piece and their reactions to it.
Art Discussion Questions
- What’s going on in this picture?
- How does this make you feel?
- How does the artist’s choices in media and style impact the overall feeling of this work?
- Why do you think the artist chose to depict herself in this way?
- What does this artwork remind you of?
- How does this artwork relate to our contemporary culture?
Self Esteem Activities for Kids
After discussing the artwork, complete one or more self esteem activities for kids based on The Compliments Project that will uplift your students and remind them of the power they have to do good. You can have students:
- Anonymously write compliments about each other on paper.
- Have students draw a self-portrait with their name under it. Then let students walk around the room and write compliments on each other’s self-portraits. (For a faster version, use photos of your students or use this free printable of face outlines. They can pick a face that is similar to their own.)
To extend the lesson, students can create an artwork inspired by the compliments they wrote. Or, they can create an artwork that merges their compliments and the negative comments inspired by Crabapple’s work.
Watching this video of people reacting to being called beautiful is a touching way to wrap up the lesson, but be warned that there is some strong language.
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