Quotables: Respond and React

After viewing the exhibition with your students, use the quotes below by artists represented in 30 Americans as primary sources for a write-around activity.

A write-around is a written discussion between four students. Divide your students into groups of four, and project one of the quotes and a work of art by the artist in the classroom.

Students can respond freely to the quote and the work of art in their notebook. If they need more guidance, you might give them a prompt such as: Do you agree or disagree with the quote and why? Do you see what the artist is talking about in his or her artwork, or not?

After 1–3 minutes (depending on your students), students pass their notebook to the next student in the group, who reads and then responds in turn to the student’s writing, and so on. After four rotations, the first student will receive their notebook back, with a written conversation about the quote and the work of art.

Quotes you might use:

  • “Initially, I was using very politically charged objects or images and then slowly I started to open up the dialogue to address a larger community.” (Gary Simmons)
  • “The weight of my ancestry still continues in my work, but there are other issues now.” (Leonardo Drew)
  • “The illusion is that most of my work is simply about past events, a point in history and nothing else.” (Kara Walker)
  • “I like doing stuff better on the street…because the art becomes just one of the objects that’s in the path of your everyday existence. It’s what you move through, and it doesn’t have any seniority over anything else.” (David Hammons)
  • “What’s great about doing something that uses the medium of advertising is that so many people have access to being able to decode it. We are media literate…My intention is always trying to make it kind of double sided so it doesn’t have one concise meaning.” (Hank Willis Thomas)