These times call for social activism, in our country, cities, communities, neighborhoods, and schools. As an artist and art teacher, I have seen how socially relevant lessons impact the way students create art. The poster I included in this exhibition depicts a broken Earth, held together by two hands, in front of a black board, Teach Tolerance is written behind it in chalk. Children are constantly exposed to bullying, gender bias, homophobia, police violence, racism, and wars. It is the responsibility of teachers to bring these issues into the classroom in a safe environment. Art projects can reflect peaceful responses to issues that effect children directly. Art may not change the world, but it can change the way children see themselves and their environment. Teachers can develop projects that Teach Tolerance, reflect peace and justice, and instill a lasting impression on their student’s lives.
BIO: Rikki Asher taught art in public schools for 18 years. She is Director of Art Education at Queens College, CUNY, muralist, and printmaker, she has painted community murals since the 1980s, in New York, Washington, Central America and Africa. Her students at SUNY New Paltz addressed themes of Sojourner Truth’s life in a mural housed in the campus Library. She was part of a community mural project in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn with 50 artists entitled When Women Pursue Justice. This 3,300 square foot mural celebrates 90 women who have led or participated in movements of social justice in the US over the past 150 years. Recently, she painted a mural in Ghana, Africa with a group of New York based artists.