gallery, no PS.JPG

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?

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.