Employing creative arts to communicate a message is an intellectually challenging and stimulating activity. Motivate your students to use the fine arts as a tool to educate others about issues related to sustainable development. Your work can address issues such as interconnectivity between people and environments around the world, agroecology and the importance of livestock animals. All these topics are an important part of the work Heifer International promotes around the globe. By participating in an Art for a Cause Project, students will learn respect for the Earth, gain respect for living creatures and build familiarity with visual art materials and techniques.
- Explore the relationships among people, animals and the environment
- Gain exposure to a variety of visual arts media and techniques
- Use art to understand human society
- Utilize an array of mathematical concepts in a "real-life" context
National Standards Addressed
Visual Art Education
- Understand and apply media, techniques and processes
- Choose and explore a range of subject matter, symbols and ideas
- Understand the visual arts in relation to history and culture
- Reflect upon and assess the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
- Make connections between visual arts and other disciplines
- Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates
- Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships
- Communicate mathematical concepts and ideas clearly and coherently to others
Choose a particular topic as a theme for your art: for example, you might focus on animal art. Expose students to a variety of visual art forms depicting your theme or focus, i.e., livestock animals. Try to find pieces of art from different cultures and, if possible, different time periods. Ask students what they can guess about the humans who created the artwork in terms of their lifestyles and how they depended on the livestock.
For animal art, discuss how people rely on animals in different ways. Discuss the seven Ms that animals provide to humans:
Other ideas for themes include:
- Caring for the earth
- Gender equality
- Community development
- Use of integrated farming techniques
- "Passing on the Gift"
Using one or more medium (e.g., clay, paint or charcoal), have students design and create a piece of artwork that depicts the theme. You could also challenge students to make sculptures from recycled materials. Have students present their final work product to the class, discussing the ideas that inform the design of the piece and the forms that the ideas eventually took.
Help your students organize an art show featuring the pieces of artwork they have created. Below are several different types of art shows your class can choose from: After selecting a theme, follow the steps under each subheading.
Host an Art Show
- Create student displays about each piece of artwork, explaining what the piece represents and why they chose to represent it in this manner
- Invite parents and other students. Have a few students introduce the art show and its theme
Create Community Art
- Contact your local government to determine where you can hold a public art display or create a permanent piece of artwork, e.g., a mural. This could be an awareness-raising activity or a neighborhood-beautification project, depending on the venue. Some city councils loan public wall space to groups (particularly youth), and some private businesses or groups will rent or donate space.
Create Art that Emphasizes Different Aspects of Heifer International's work. For example:
- Caring for the Earth
- Livestock and their relationships to human societies
- Gender equity
- Community development
Host a Sidewalk Art Festival
- Following the tradition of European sidewalk artists, have students host a Sidewalk Art Festival. First, have students practice using pastels on the sidewalk. They should experiment with shading, perspectives and the blending of colors with sponges. Small teams of students should then create designs following the festival’s theme. These designs can be in any artistic genre.
- Using tape, represent canvases on the sidewalk. We recommend marking off a 3’ x 4’ area for each design, but be sure to leave room for walkways between the canvases so visitors can wander among the artists
- Instruct the students to create gridlines on both their small-scale design and their sidewalk canvas. The grids will help them transfer their designs to the larger-scale canvas. Using the grids as guides, the students should use white chalk to sketch their design’s major elements.
- Advertise your Sidewalk Art Festival within the school and in the community. Sidewalk Art Festivals are vivacious, fun events that can attract people of all ages
- On the day of the festival, have the teams show up early in the morning. They should tape a picture of their final design next to their blank sidewalk canvas, and start drawing and filling in their designs with the color pastels. All day, visitors can walk by and watch their progress.
- At the end of the event, you can give awards in different categories
Students can choose to use their artwork to raise money for charity in several ways. For example, you can add an auction component to a school art show. If you host a Sidewalk Art Festival, you can ask spectators to “vote” for their favorite paintings by placing a quarter in a see-through vertical pipe (place one of these pipes next to every team’s painting). Explain that the money will be donated to charity and encourage spectators to vote often. (Remember: the point is to raise money, so spectators can vote for paintings as often as they like.)
If your students create a public mural, one fundraising option would be to ask for optional donations per square foot. Donate the funds that you raise to Heifer International.
Fundraising is a fantastic way for your students to apply mathematical skills in “real-life” context. During the process of organizing your fundraiser(s), have students use mathematical concepts to:
- Decide what amount of money you would like to raise and then calculate the amount per item (artwork, square foot of mural, etc.) you will need to charge to reach that goal
- Estimate the amount of money you have raised at different points during an event (i.e., during the art auction or during the Sidewalk Art Festival). Communicate this information to your attendees through a graphic display and verbal announcement. Periodic updates on how your fundraiser is doing can create excitement at a live event, encouraging attendees to donate more.