“With paintings like that…you can say ‘I felt that.'” — Jerri Zbiral, Curator
Peggy Lipschutz is a 97-year-old artist from Evanston, IL. She says “I have two loves–art and politics. Politics being people. What happens to people.” Her bold and colorful artworks document important events, make statements about our society, or deal with people in their everyday environment. Through her art, she has painted about labor unions, the civil rights movement, and much more.
Check out some of her work below, and use the discussion questions and activities to explore these artworks with your students.
One painting I love of hers is Wrested Heart. In the painting, a woman has pulled her heart out of her chest to examine it. Instead of witnessing agony, as you would imagine the scene might feel, we look in on a very special moment. Her heart glows and lights up her face. Her heart is cracking open to reveal something precious inside.
Curator of the Peggy Lipschutz exhibition, Jerri Zbiral, says of this painting, “We all have hearts, and we all every now and then need to take that heart, pull it out, and take a look at it. And I’m hoping with paintings like that…that you can say “I felt that.” Art is at its most powerful when we can connect to the emotion in it.
Show this artwork to your students and ask: What is this woman doing? Why is she doing it? How does this woman feel? What is inside her heart? What are some ways to look into your own heart?
Have students write a poem or a story about what is in their hearts.
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So much of her art made my breath catch in my chest, but the one that impacted me the most was this one documenting Obama’s inauguration.
In 2010, I worked at a south Dallas elementary school with 90+% black students. We had a teacher workday on inauguration day, and we all gathered in the library to watch on a small tv. This painting captured the feeling in that room so perfectly. Witnessing the inauguration of a black President of the United States in that environment was an incredibly powerful moment I will never forget.
Show this artwork to your students and ask: How do the people in this painting feel? Why did they feel that way?
Songs We Can See
Lipschutz is also a performance artist. In addition to talking on stage while drawing (“chalk talks”), she also does drawings with chalk alongside musicians. One example is her painting a landscape alongside Pete Seeger singing “This Land is Your Land.” See a video below.
Play a clip of music to your students and ask them to think of what they might draw for this song if they were doing a performance like Lipschutz. Discuss the students’ ideas as a class. Give the students a large sheet of paper and some chalk pastels, and play the song again. Have students create their drawings as the song plays.
See more artwork by this artist as well as an interview with her at this link.
Women’s History Month
This post is part of the Women in World History series for Multicultural Kid Blogs
Join us for our second annual Women’s History Month series, celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of women around the world. Don’t miss our series from last year, and find even more posts on our Women’s History board on Pinterest: