Social Justice Superhero Posters
LEGO bricks are one of the most contemporary mediums in the art world and have grown far beyond a toy. LEGO bricks, in fact, have a superpower all of their own, in that they enable kids to talk about important topics in a deeper, more meaningful and personal way. Try having a conversation about diversity with a 13 year old and you probably won’t get much of a response, but give them the task of collaborating and building it out of Lego bricks, and you’ll see great discussions happening as they work out what diversity means and how best to represent it.
Using Lego bricks with students is a unique phenomenon: the act of building the message involves more of their brain, more of their heart, than talking does. I call it THINKING WITH YOUR HANDS and it is this process that enabled these groups of kids to create these superhero posters.
Beyond the fun of creating with LEGO blocks, this project provided Islander Middle School Art II students the opportunity to develop a range of valuable skills, including collaboration, graphic design, and math & perspective (to render a 2D drawing into LEGO format).
Importantly, through this project, students also addressed issues of social justic such as stereotyping, racial injustice, bias, and identity.
As you look at the artwork below, consider these questions:
What do superheroes look like? What qualities do superheroes possess? How can we all be superheroes?
Afton F., Joyce L., Quincy S., Raphael B., Stella C.
Our superhero is showing that all people can be a hero. Our superhero is about believing in yourself and your culture. She represents German, French, Filipino, and Chinese cultures. Her superpowers are super agility and strength. She has no face so she can be anyone.
Her colors are inspired by our group’s cultures and are the colors on each of the flags. On her dress is a ying yang where the white side has the Philippines’ star and the black side has the German sun. The fleur-de-lis represents France. She represents all the cultural symbols in the group that created her.
Catherine Y., Cole R., Katie P., Marques A., Sadie J.
This Lego art represents the LBGTQ community. Although the LBGTQ community does not include everyone in the world, it includes the people that still need to be as equal as everyone else in the world. Our picture shows a non-gender- specific person. It shows us that you are able to be who you want to be and not who others see you as or want you to be. When people look at it, they should feel like they can express themselves and not be afraid to be themselves.
The LBGTQ flag that our superhero wears as a cape represents different sexualities and pride. Our Lego piece of art includes the cultures of Japanese, Swedish, Pacific Northwest, Lebanese, and Chinese people. We have a Swedish P, ying yang, wolf ears, and cherry blossoms to represent the diversity in culture and strength in everyone. The wolf ears on our poster represent being brave. When they see them, people wouldn’t realize that it’s what’s on the inside, not always the outside.
When talking to a stranger, you don’t know whether they are part of the LGBTQ community or not. As a result of not being aware, you treat that stranger equally. When people find out someone is a part of the LGBTQ community, they, for some reason, treat that person differently. We need to treat everyone equally so we can live in a peaceful world.
Emily, Jada, Julian, Meher, Zachary
We wanted to show that no matter what you believe in, you will be accepted.
We used symbols from five different cultures to show diversity. Our symbols are showing unity, strength, happiness and smarts. All of these symbols coming together create something bigger, "believing in yourself” by combining symbols from our own cultures such as cherry blossoms, the Star of David, a menorah, and a Philippine sun shows that the connections of cultures can create something stronger.
We also wanted to show that you are your own supporter. In hopes of representing that we came up with "Believe in Yourself." This makes us think about how you can always support other people and persist in doing so, but you have to prove on your own that you can do the same for yourself.
This poster shows how when cultures and different religions come together as one, they can be stronger and inspiring to others.
Durham, Frida, Logan, Mylan, Sofie, Sam
During the making of our project, we chose to take the meaning of diversity, not just in the color of skin or the places we were from, but doing what you want to do and striving to be what you want to be. People think that to be cultural, you have to have not-white skin and blue eyes, but we say that everyone has a background and ours are German, Norwegian, Alaskan, and Chinese. We communicated this message through having the lady wear German clothing and outlining the border of "Believe" in red to represent the Chinese culture. The earring is a Nordic hammer. The colors blue, white, and red symbolize America because we all live in it.
We all wanted to symbolize hope and prosperity across the world. Though at times it may feel like you are just another identical pebble in the sands of time, believing in the power in yourself unravels your uniqueness shining the power one may feel within. We wanted to embrace that you shouldn't give up on your dreams.
Brandon F., Julia Z., Syver L., Tommy B, Maya T.
Cultures connect and come together as one. No matter who you are, universally we can come together. No matter who you are or what you look like, we can all care for the people around us. We also want to show that everyone can be happy and loved.
Our main symbols are the colors, which all have different inherent meanings. For example, the red represents bravery and standing up for your beliefs. Another large symbol is the Chilean flower, which symbolizes happiness and abundance. We also added wings to represent coming out of your shell and turning into your true self. The samurai helmet comes from the Japanese culture and the black and white pattern are mummy bandages from Egypt. Another symbol are the colors red, white, and blue. They stand for all different flags together like the USA, France, Chile, and the Netherlands.
The main message behind our superhero is togetherness and acceptance, which are issues in today’s society. We wanted to tackle the issue head on by creating this superhero.
Ashley, Ava, Spencer, Rogan, Tanner, Wesley
During the process of putting all of our creations together, we added and disposed of some ideas, but later we decided to include every single idea as our slogan came into place "Better Together” and we thought about it and we wouldn't be following our slogan if we didn't include all of our contributions.
Our piece conveys an important message of no gender, showing how everyone is equal not matter what race or sex. Also, our piece has wings because we believe that whenever you're in a bad situation you can spread your wings and fly away to your happy place. Our hero has a cross for Christianity, a kimono for Japanese culture, dragon legs, a French Basque symbol and bees.
Our poster represents who we are.
Cole, Dasha, Sruthi, Tyler, Javier
While creating our superhero we kept in mind the message we were trying to communicate. This message is that everybody is equal, no matter your size, shape, or color.
Our hero has the strength of a bull; she’s ten times smarter than any living being; and she’s as fast as a cheetah. She’s part Russian, Polish, Mexican, Indian, and Scottish. She has graceful wings and is wearing a red and blue cat suit and pitch-black gloves. Her red jumpsuit shows that she is fierce because red is a fierce color.
The symbols we used included wings and an X. The wings have value because our slogan is “Elevate Equality” and the wings relate to elevating, and they show we are making efforts to raise the bar and try to be better humans. The X was meant to communicate that we should work together to block out all the hate.
Alan, Emily, Nina, Sasha, Solis, Grace
Our motto is education for all. We want everyone to have education. We showed education by adding math symbols on her cape, a picture of a book, and a big red apple. The apple in the superhero's hand represents education, as when on the first day of school kids would bring in an apple for the teacher.
The sun represents all Hispanic and Latino people. The United Kingdom flag represents coming together. The dragon represents power and the universe. The mom on her head represents luck. All the blue on the poster represents all of the people. The warm colors represent family and love. Other colors represent certain nationalities such as British, Vietnamese, Dutch, Russian, and Chinese.
The superhero is a girl because most superheroes in the comics are men and a woman superhero can show that diversity and equality matters.
Everyone should be able to get a good education.
Elizabeth, Jack, John, Kindred, Mimi, Piper
Power and strength can be expressed throughout all races and genders. Our superhero is female, blonde, and is wearing a red dress representing the Danish flag with a belt that symbolizes clarity. Our poster represents equality. We show that with dark skin, rainbow letters, and the tree of life. We represent African American, Brazilian, Danish, Gaelic, South Korean, and German ancestry.
Our poster conveys two separate powers. The superhero herself has a red suit that dominates the scene. Her stance is upright and her spear is by her side, representing protection. We believe that all life should get the same amount of protection. The gold-striped bands on her arm are from African descent and they signify the strength she collects from others that she uses to protect. The other power represented is the connectivity and purity of her background. The tree of life, representing purity, shows the peace between the world and the right of life given to all. The tree also represents hope.
There are many different types of equality; some relate to race and some to sexual orientation. This poster represents all of them. The symbols were used in unity to convey importance throughout multiple races and ethnicities.
Ben V., Caitlin M., Ethan C., Simar B., Ellie S.
Our poster represents diversity and erasing all labels. Labels can be hurtful and very offensive. All too many people are being judged or labeled before anyone really gets to know them. We wanted our superhero to show anyone can be a hero. We wanted our superhero to look like a normal person.
The yin yang (shield) represents balance and unity. The Basque cross also represents unity. The mask shows how it could be anyone under the mask and you don’t have to be a certain gender or race to be a superhero. The Irish clover represents luck and the Indian flag represents strength, courage, peace, truth, fertility, and growth. The Polish flower represents peace.
We hope that our superhero will help/inspire people to erase labels.
Elliott, Harry, Silas, Tyler, Cohen
While brainstorming the design of our superhero, we were trying to come up with ways to make him as diverse as possible. We wanted to show that he represented all cultures and races. Finally, we settled on giving our hero three heads, have him wear symbols of different cultures, and have our motto be "Express Yourself. We believe that racial stereotypes have divided people when, really, we are all the same.
The main Lego figure is wearing a shamrock representing the Irish and a jade necklace representing the Chinese. The location is the Australian desert for Australia. We chose three heads and many different symbols to show diversity. Doing this tells the reader or spectator that everyone is different-you can be who you choose to be.
Alex, Karen, Logan, Madison, Sadie
Our superhero is floating in the middle of a ball that is surrounded by fire. The most prominent focus of the poster is the flame. The flame is emblematic of a strong psyche and individuality. Feeding your flame could also mean feeding your ambition. However, the flame is subjective and can have many other meanings based on the viewer’s perspective.
The symbols include lotus buns that represent peace and affection. The flowing water represents peace because it reflects the peacefulness of a calm river. We included wings for ancient Greece; they stand for kindness and strength. We added a yin yang for balance. The gecko symbolizes health, the regeneration of limbs. The Philippine star represents transformation.
The hero is dwarfed by the flame, symbolizing that the flame—drive, grit, creativity—is bigger and much greater than themself. The hero’s gender is ambiguous, meaning anyone can find their flame. The message is about being an individual.
Chaney W., Emma F., Gavin S., Kate Y., Varenna R., Yusen H.
Our superhero represents diversity and inclusion. It shows that anyone can be a hero. Your race, culture, gender and social status don’t define you. Superheroes have to be determined, brave, kind, and passionate. This poster represents a superhero soaring through the sky, carrying our symbols.
Our slogan, “For Us,” represents how the call for justice and representation is for us, not “we” and “them,” but for every culture that is shown. Our poster shows a mix of our colors. The yin yang shows balance between everyone. The stars in the background show the Pacific Island flag. The lotus represents life and peace.
Our title is “For Us.” This means everyone is a hero in their own way. We are not only fighting for ourselves, but for everyone in the world. We are all the same.
Brian, Cole, Elise, Hazen, Molly, Time
Our poster represents a feminine angel figure flying down to earth, spreading hope. We wanted to show that angels could be any gender, not just male. We incorporated female empowerment because that is a relevant social justice problem today. Our superhero breaks stereotypes and fights sexism.
Her wings are made of blue and white, the colors of the sky. The three swirls on the chest are a symbol for feminine power and faith in herself. Her dress has no sleeves because she brings warmth wherever she goes. The green and pink belt represents the new spring coming wherever she flies. The four-leaf clover represents luck.
This project helped us realize that some people are in need of help and hope. The idea of the angel was that an angel is light and stands for peace and hope. She has wings to fly. Our superhero spreads the message to never give up hope, even when you are at the deepest of lows. If you have the right mindset, you can always rise again.
Alyssa, Alexandra, Dylan, Peyton, Camelee
In the making of our poster, we found that we stereotyped about how everyone’s skin color is the same. Although this is obviously false, we still thought of our character as a white female. Yet, the color of your skin does not define who you are. It is how you treat others and yourself that define you.
We are all different in good ways. We used the color orange for being honored and proud. The orange represents the Dutch, the blue represents Judaism, the red represents England, the green represents Italy, and the black and white represent China. We used the yin yang to represent Daoism, the Celtic knot to represent Irish culture, and the Roman symbol for infinity and “way to the Gods” to represent the Italian culture. We also added the Star of David, Yin Yang, and other symbols.
We believe that diversity is something you should embrace. We wanted to communicate self-confidence, as well as unity throughout different cultures and people. All of these elements come together to honor diversity.
Adie, Anna, Cy, Luke, Quinn
In our product, we wanted to highlight the racial misrepresentations of people of all colors. Every culture is misrepresented in some way, and we hope our art brings the spotlight to this issue so it can be solved. In our research, we truly understood the scope of issues surrounding race. Our goal was to be a part of the movement that targets and destroys racial injustice of all kinds. Ziggy the main character of our project, is the face of our movement.
Ziggy is a non-binary alien robot. Our group wanted to make sure that we were able to represent everyone in one single image, but without leaving any one person feeling that they weren't represented. We accomplished this by not representing a single one.
Ziggy includes symbols of each of the artist's heritage. We wanted to convey the idea that all cultures are important and deserve to be included. One such symbol is the Celtic cross, which allows Ziggy, and thus the movement, to be infinite. The bamboo shaft is his tool. Bamboo is flexible and fits all jobs.
As you go about your day, keep Ziggy in the forefront of your thoughts. We can all fight racial injustice together.
Aiden, Alexa, Ben, Katherine, Piper
Our poster includes many cultural symbols to express the message to spread joy. We chose the slogan "Spread Joy" to inform others of how we should all treat each other with positivity, no matter our racial and cultural differences.
We have crosses on the banner that represent Christianity, the Star of David that represents the Jewish community, and the fleur-de-lis that represents the French. In the background there is the Seattle skyline. With the symbols of our group's cultures, we are all a part of a superhero in one city. We show that people can still be happy, even with their differences. We also put in colors that represent hope, such as white, blue, and gold/yellow. The night sky represents the fact that we are all joined together under the same sky; we are all stars.
Our group was representing that everyone could be in a community together with joy and peace. Our superhero spreads joy and goodness to everyone, no matter their race or gender.
Carter G., Ella G., Kaya G., Sophia F., Victoria H.
Our poster consists of many symbols representing our cultures. It is about diversity and the connection between the superhero and nature. The bluebird represents happiness. It is a messenger for the Queen Mother of the West. This symbol is from China. The Evil Eye represents safety and protection from evil. It is god’s eye looking out. Our superhero stance suggests bravery and strength.
Calvin H., Dan M., Daniela V., Jenna M., Ty P.
Our poster depicts a superhero flying over the skyline of a city. It is about bringing different backgrounds together. It is also about how it matters who you are, not what you look like or where you come from.
The logo that represents our superhero is a mix between a Celtic knot and Star of David with a Christian cross behind it.
We also have yin yang to show the balance in the community. The blue and white are to show Judaism, the red and white for Korea, and the green, orange, and white for the Irish flag.
We included a blue mask and cape to honor superheroes from the past.
Christopher, Emma, Katie, Oliver, Charlotte
Our hero is using his wings to turn the dark in the world to light. He is taking "dark" things like racism and turning them into "light" things like kindness and happiness. Using symbols, we could accurately signify the importance of our heritage. For instance the shield held by our superhero doubles as a dreidel to represent Jewish roots. Inside the dreidel is a cross that represents Christianity to show the intercrossing of the two religions. The peach stands for kindness among people, as well as to represent home and helpfulness because peaches nourish people and make them feel better. The shamrock comes from Irish roots and stands for luck. The goggles represent infinity signs that show infinite peace and kindness.
Our poster whimsically presents the idea of societal acceptance within our gallant superhero. The phrase, "You do you!" combines a lackadaisical millennial term that symbolizes all of our modern day culture with an empowering message of confidence.
John, Madeline, Morgan, Shane, Ansel
In the creation of our project we were aiming to show that we need to persevere for healthcare rights. There are many people who don't get fair medical treatment because of who they are; not everyone gets health care even though everyone should. We wanted to convey the opposite.
We have two symbols. One is Swiss and the other is Japanese. The Swiss one is the Red Cross for health. The other symbol means mental and emotional healing, protection purification, clearing, and balancing. We put these symbols in the hero's hands at an equal height to convey the idea of two different races getting the same medical treatment.
The artwork featured on this page and in the exhibit was orginally inspired by Of Gods and Heroes, an installation by the Salish artist Jeffrey Veregge. Veregge depicts a cast of characters recognizable to any Marvel fan—Iron Man, Captain America, Spider Man, Captain Marvel, Thor—however, in his epic battle scene, Veregge portrays these well-known heroes using traditional Salish tribal motifs and phrases from his native S’Klallam language, asking viewers to reimagine the heroes as Salish. You can ead more about Of Gods and Heroes here and check out Jeffrey Veregge here.
Islander Middle School students created their own culturally representative superheroes in Julie Bigg’s Art II classes. First, they pulled from their own backgrounds to draw superhero designs that incorporated symbols and motifs from their cultures or others that interest them.
They then drew inspiration from Ruth Carter’s Academy Award winning costumes for Black Panther and worked in teams to integrate their individual superheroes into one cohesive design representing diversity. LEGO artist/master Alice Finch then guided the students in bringing their superheroes to life in layered, colorful LEGO posters.
In addition to learning with Alice Finch, the students worked with Arlene Naganawa, a published writer who assisted students in writing their artist statements.
This project was done in collaboration with Alice Finch and Arlene Naganawa, and was made possible by funding from the Fine Arts Showcase, the annual fundraiser coordinated by the Mercer Island Fine Arts Advisory Council. This community art exhibit was brought to you by Mercer Island Parks & Recreation and the Mercer Island Arts Council.