Subject locations arts Social studies Themes neighborhood Migration stare & Storytelling great Plan collection The Migration collection Prism.K12 tactics express Synthesize Grade level 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


PaintLarge paintbrushesThick file orcardstockOptional: paint on a large wall or large file to create amural

Lesson Overview

Artist Jacob Lawrence invested a the majority of time at the 135th Street Branch that the new York publicly Library conducting research and taking arts classes. Here, Lawrence encountered Aaron Douglas’s four-panel mural Aspects of negro Life, commissioned through the federal works Progress management (WPA). The murals depict the background of Blacks in America, beginning with slavery to restoration to the an excellent Migration in the 1930s.

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Douglas integrated African society into his paints of black history, eventually inspiring Lawrence to end up being a contemporary African-American storyteller. Both artists created paintings during the Harlem Renaissance to deal with social issues of race and also segregation.

In this lesson, college student will:

Compare the styles and stories of two Harlem Renaissance paintersConsider their own narratives by to express a story the their community through painting or mural-making

Part 1:Discussion

Compare the similarities and also differences in between the style and narratives in Douglas’s Aspects of black Life: song of the Towers and Lawrence’s Migration Series: dashboard no. 45:

Notice the paintings’ styles:What kinds of color does every artistuse?What shapes, patterns, and designs perform you an alert in eachpainting?Analyze the paintings’ stories:What symbols perform you notice? What could theysignify?Weaving together the monitorings from the looking task and discussion, what story does every paintingtell?What around the story is positive? What about the story isnegative?

Part 2: arts TellsStories

SYNTHESIZE the newfound understanding of Douglas and also Lawrence’s imaginative styles and ways that storytelling, and create your very own painting or mural to EXPRESS a story of your community. This can be one individual, group, or class project. Consider the adhering to questions as soon as making yourpainting:

What layout reflects your community? Do specific patterns or designs reflect your community’sidentity?What room both positive and negative aspects of gift in yourcommunity?What part of her community’s history is essential to that your community istoday?What execute you desire to convey around your community? What components of your ar do you deliberately want come leave the end of yourartwork?

Visual Context

Here room some artwork and also images to more contextualize the contents of the lesson. You can incorporate the images into your lessons or usage them to develop your own background knowledge. 

Please note: photos are easily accessible to download only for personal, noncommercial use. For any kind of questions about image rights and also reproductions, you re welcome contact imagerights


Aaron DouglasAspects of black Life: track of the Towers1934Oil top top canvasArt and also Artifacts Division, Schomburg center for research study in black color Culture, The brand-new York publicly Library, Astor, Lenox, and also TildenFoundations.

Aaron Douglas was a storyteller. He created a four-panel mural called Aspects of black Life that illustrated the history of Blacks in America, from enslavement to the 1930s. Jacob Lawrence, favor Douglas, was also a storyteller who common the story of daily life, as well as famous black Americans and their experiences living in America. College student compare and contrast the ways in which these artists convey the stories of BlackAmericans.


Migrants travel to numerous different northern cities, for a range of reasons, looking for a far better life. For example, Pittsburgh ended up being a major industrial center due come its waterways and also abundance of herbal resources such together coal, timber, organic gas, limestone, and iron. In this lesson, students analyze the way in which Lawrence speak the story of the an excellent Migration v this particularpanel.

Jacob Lawrence, The migrate Series, panel no. 45: The migrants arrived in Pittsburgh, among the good industrial centers the the North,1940-41

Lesson Context

In the 1920s, Harlem ended up being a desire address. The community in brand-new York City was associated with an outpouring of production in the intuitive arts, music, literature, theater, and dance. This an innovative era happened called the Harlem Renaissance.

Jacob Lawrence relocated to Harlem when he was 13 and also grew increase in this colorful community. He took art classes at the Utopia House and the Harlem Workshop while closely observing the task and rhythms that Harlem’s day-to-day life.

Lawrence flourished up amongst some that the most well-known African-American thinkers throughout the Harlem Renaissance. He lived in the same structure as the poet Claude McKay and attended the Apollo Theater wherein he recalled the town hall performances in which “everything was jagged, bright, and brittle…so probably my color and also my shapes have this quality and also developed out of the experience.”

Key Terms

Great Migration: In the southern US, afri Americans withstood blatant discrimination and segregation as part of Jim crow laws, and also poor financial conditions. In the hopes of improved living and also working conditions, hundreds of thousands of afri Americans moved from the south to the North, in certain to Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia, and new York, between 1916-1940. The an excellent Migration occurred in two significant waves: the an initial one being from 1916-1940 and the second one native 1941-1970. 

Harlem Renaissance: The biggest concentration of afri Americans who migrated during the an excellent Migration moved to Harlem. Native the 1910s come mid-1930s, the community of Harlem in new York City came to be a hub of African-American culture, with an explosion of literature, music, theater, and also the arts.

Reconstruction: The restoration era in the unified States instantly followed the American civil War, indigenous 1865-1877, and also the finish of Slavery. The American government attempted to attend to slavery and its lasting effects, consisting of political, social, and economic inequities, as well as new issues that arose from the 11 Confederacy states rejoining the Union. Despite Reconstruction efforts, countless states enacted legislations that perpetuated inequities and limited African Americans’ civil rights.

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Works Progress management (WPA): The WPA was established in 1935 to aid counteract some of the results from the good Depression of 1929. The WPA hired countless workers to construct public infrastructure, in particular buildings and also roads, transparent the US.