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I just finished reading an incredible book, Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. It’s a story about a German woman and her child from World War II in Germany. It was a truly incredible book, and I am actually a little sad I finished it. I’ve been thinking of the book all day, so I decided to let me reading inspire this week’s Artwork of the Week. This artwork was also included in my 10 Artworks for a Stimulating Discussion last week.
Propaganda artworks are often great choices for students to analyze because they usually have very clear and blunt design choices. Because the goal was often to impact the viewer’s emotions and lead them to some sort of action, the choices of the artist are bold.
This one, like so many, uses children to impact the viewer. By juxtaposing the innocence of the child with the dark, sinister symbolism of the Nazi swastika, it incites fear and our parental protective instincts. If the image didn’t grab you enough, the artist adds text to make it clear what he wants us to do after seeing this image.
In our media-frenzied society, it is absolutely imperative that we teach our kids to decipher this sort of image.
Here are some discussion questions you could use to discuss this image with your students.
- What’s going on in this picture?
- What is the shadow on the ground? What does it symbolize?
- What do you think this artist was trying to accomplish with this picture? How does the artist use children to accomplish this?
- What emotions does this artwork incite?
- What parts of the image are touched by the shadow? What happened to it? (the doll touches the shadow and looks dead)
- How do you think the American people during World War II would have responded to this picture?
This artwork is included in the first test that I give to my community college classes. I have the students analyze it using the Four Steps of Art Criticism.
The Four Steps of Art Criticism Lesson Plan
This lesson covers the four steps of art criticism using artworks. Explore description, analysis, interpretation, and evaluation with your students using engaging activities and examples.