Welcome to my Art Spotlight series. In this series, I delve a little deeper into individual works of art to help give you ideas for how to use them in your classroom. For each artwork, I will include discussion questions, a short description of its significance and context, learning activities, and curriculum connections.
In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I have chosen a contemporary Mexican-American artist who was born and raised in Juarez, Mexico.
This is a photo series with multiple artworks. To view them all, visit Monica Lozano’s website at this link. I have include small, low quality thumbnails here for reference. There is a great pdf on her site of all the images in the series. Click “download pdf” in the top right corner.
As always, use these tips for how to look at art with kids. Always let them look and think about it before you give them any information!
Recommended Age: Upper Elementary through High School
Questions to ask
- What is going on in these photographs? What do you see that makes you say that?
- Why are these people wearing masks?
- What masks do you wear in your life (real or hypothetical)?
- What emotions do you feel when looking at this? What emotions do you think the artist feels? What emotions do the people in the pictures feel?
- What do you think is the artist’s connection to these people? To this place? How can you tell?
- Which photograph do you connect to the most? Why?
- What is the artist trying to say about the people of Juarez?
I love this series because it makes us see a place in a new way. Being more aware of stereotypes is important. Whether it be a person stereotyped because the color of their skin or the size of their body, a place can be stereotyped too. Juarez is home to Monica Lozano. In recent years, Juarez has changed from an active border town to a place filled with violence. What she feels and what she experiences in the people of Juarez is not what makes it on the news. The people in Juarez are real–not the caricatures we see from afar. Lozano says, “I wanted to scream out to the world that we are also powerful, loving, happy, strong and compassionate people, we are not only the face of violence” (source).
This photograph series highlights that in a powerful way. She places the people she knows and loves in their natural settings, going about their day, but she covers them with a Day of the Dead mask, which connects the person with their ancestors and cultural history. This series of artworks can spark a powerful discussion about appearances not being always what they seem and the harmful mistake we make when we don’t look past stereotypes to see the real underneath.
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1. What masks do you wear? After discussing stereotypes and the meaning behind this artwork, have students brainstorm the hypothetical masks they wear. If you were to recreate this artwork connecting to your personal and cultural history and your home, what would you include? Write a description of your new hypothetical work or get to work making your own mask and photograph in this vein.
2. Make some Day of the Dead art! Study these artworks in a unit about Day of the Dead. Make a Day of the Dead mask or papier mache skull. Make an altar honoring your ancestor(s). Or, do any of these projects from the fabulous Deep Space Sparkle website!
- Lozano’s Website, check out her portfolio of other work
- Day of the Dead Stick Masks
- Day of the Dead Children’s Book
- Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book
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What did you and your children think of this series? Is there an artwork you love that you’d like for me to cover in this series? Let me know in the comments!