Visualizing Different Perspectives in History

As part of their study this semester, Upper School American History students produced original artwork that focused on moments in the American Revolution from a variety of perspectives.

The class provides 11th grade students with a chronological exploration of our nation’s history beginning with the clash of cultures in the colonial period, the creation of the state and national political systems, Reconstruction through the present day and everything in between.

Teacher Jeanne Polk Barr is passionate about her subject and how she teaches it. Inspired by a piece she encountered at the National Museum of Mexican Art during the summer, she crafted a unique assignment for her charges this year to share her excitement.

Barr said, “Titled Sun Mad, by Ester Hernandez, [the piece is] in a genre known as an ‘agamograph,’ made famous by Israeli kinetic sculptor Yaacov Agam and consisting of a brightly colored print that appears to shapeshift before a viewer’s eyes. Sun Mad is also in the style of an ofrenda, and the whole thing commemorates migrant farm workers who were exposed to toxic chemicals, created in a technique that presents three different paintings depending on where you’re standing. I thought this piece was absolutely brilliant—the evocation of farm workers, the environmental and human cost of agricultural engineering, the connection to the boycott on grapes in the ’70s, the iconography of a well-known consumer brand, the three dimensionality of the multiple perspectives, as well as the items on the table in front of the canvas evoking the ofrenda tradition—genius!”

After sharing photographs of Hernandez’s piece with her class, Barr reviewed a video demonstrating the creation of agamographs and asked students to work in teams of two to create original three-part agamographs that interpreted and showcased multiple perspectives from the American Revolution.

Student works in response to this assignment are amazing. Reflecting the perspectives of a smiling British solider displaying the Proclamation of 1763, George Washington vying for the homelands of the Natives and King George III, to name a few, they are visually compelling and reflect students’ growth as culturally literate critical thinkers.

All are welcome to view their learning here.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.