Tackling Social Issues Through Art

Tackling Social Issues Through Captivating Art

Year 10 Visual Arts students from Browns Plains State High recently explored social issues through creative mediums as part of their studies, and the results are nothing short of remarkable.

Twenty Eight students from the class produced an array of unique artworks covering a range of social issues they were passionate about, as part of a practical ‘Independent Inquiry’ unit that lasted 10 weeks this term.

From surrealism to drawing, painting and mask making, all talents and mediums were encouraged. 

Visual arts teacher who guided the students through this unit, Alice Hall, says the students rose to the challenge of independence and is extremely proud of the creativity they demonstrated.

“In the visual arts sphere they can go with their own style, develop their own concept then realise that concept over a 10 week period,” Ms Hall said. 

“I’m really happy with what they created and really inspired, they inspire me.

“I feel inspired that they’re so passionate about their own stuff and that they’re very driven to care about social issues.” 

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Ms Hall says a common theme among the artworks was playing with the social ideas around body image, as the class is heavily female dominated. 

“Six or seven of them explored body image and how representation in the media influences their view of what a woman looks like,” she said. 

“Because the class was so female dominated I decided to look at Barbara Krueger who was an 80’s pop artist. 

“She looks at using magazine photos and juxtaposes them with text to talk about how women’s bodies are a battleground, and they wrote an essay on that.”

A highlight was student Olivia Kirkshaw’s mask artwork which featured a collage of McDonald’s symbols and a miniature conveyor belt to convey capitalism. 

“Olivia wanted to talk about consumerism and how cheap food is leading to obesity,” Ms Hall said. 

Mask Art
Olivia Kirkshaws artwork portraying the pitfalls of consumerism

Some students in the class explored the idea of the social stigma around men’s mental health through their artworks. 

“Some of the boys explored the lack of discourse in the media about men’s mental health regarding depression and anxiety,” she said. 

Ms Hall says the unit has helped the students express themselves as well as explore what their strengths and weaknesses are as an artist before they advance to senior level. 

“I think the arts have a special role to play in student expression and giving them a sense of self worth,” Ms Hall said. 

Browns Plains State High School recently won the Qsuper award for excellence in secondary education at the Queensland Showcase Awards for their Attitude to Learning program.

 

Visual arts