Social Justice Art for Teens – May

We are so excited to bring you Social Justice Art for Teens Online for May!

Join our art educator Francine Sculli as she takes us through all the different creative mediums we can use to raise awareness for an issues that is important to us.

Social Justice Art for Teens – May from MVCC on Vimeo.

1. Go on a virtual tour of the Keith Haring & Jean Michel Basquiat exhibition.2. Create a black out poem using a newspaper page and turn it into an art work.3. Play ‘Exquisite Corpse’ with a Social Justice Art twist with        members of your family4. Create a stop-motion animation  about Social Justice Art
5. Create your own Banksy-inspired    Social Justice Art  slogan.  6. Create a painting over the top of a ‘social justice’ newspaper article.7. Create your own  social justice           advertisement for a social issue important to you.8. Create an image that captures your feelings and thoughts on Coronavirus.  
9. Create a Social Justice Art ZINE    10. Study the symbols in our world that show bias. Re-design them.  11. Create your own    microscopic world using found objects in your home.12. Create your own pop-up card and give it to someone who needs some hope.
13. Create an art work that reveals a hidden social injustice  14. Create a ‘hands’   photography deck of cards  15. Create a deck of Social Justice Art trading cards.  16. Create your own Social Justice Art piece.


1. Choose any Social Justice Art activity/experience on the board to start.

2. These activities are designed to be accessible at home. Be creative, use any materials you find at home. They don’t even need to be traditional art materials. Think of anything you can stick down, make marks with and create colours from.

3. Whichever activity/experience you do, find the corresponding section with more detailed instructions and examples. Read these directions, follow video tutorials and/or look at examples to help you complete the activity.

4. Create and have an impact.

5. Don’t forget to share your creations. Your voice is important not only to us at the Incinerator Gallery, but to your community and beyond. So please upload your creations to Facebook, Instagram or other social media and use the hashtag –  #incineratorSJA4Ts

6. And one last reminder – join the Social Justice Art for Teens   Facebook Group to get connected with other young artists wanting to have their voices heard and use art to raise  awareness and make a difference.

1. Go on a virtual tour of the Keith Haring & Jean Michel Basquiat exhibition.

Keith Haring & Jean Michel Basquiat were incredible social advocates with their art. Take a tour of their exhibition at the NGV.

You might like to read about the artists’ activism too.

2. Create a black out poem using a newspaper page and turn it into an art work.

Black out poems are a fantastic way to creatively explore the connections of words and ideas in a succinct and abstract way. They can also become beautiful art works. By using newspaper articles about social issues it can help you to communicate messages through the art form of poetry.

  1. Find a newspaper article that reflects a social justice/social issue.
  2. Think about your thoughts on the social justice issue, then look for words that could    connect to communicate your thoughts in a poetic way. Circle them. You might even like to make new words by connecting the ends and beginnings of words next to each other.
  3. When you are happy with the words you have chosen, the flow of your poem and the message, it is time for you to create your art around the words. You can block out the  surrounding page completely or you can turn it into an art work that visually supports the message of your poem. You may get inspiration from some of the examples below.

3. Play Exquisite Corpse with a Social Justice Twist

Exquisite Corpse is a vintage drawing game played by surrealist artists—Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray—in the 1920s. It breaks down a drawing into 3 body sections: head, torso and legs. Each section is a surprise as it is passed between people. We are going to put a social justice art twist on this.

  1. Start with a blank piece of paper, something to draw with and two family members willing to play with you! 
  2. Fold your paper into three equal sections along the longest edge. Each person should have their own paper. 
  3. Now it’s time to draw. Make sure you only draw in the top section. There, you will draw a head. With the head, your job is to capture the expression, emotion and detail of someone that is suffering a social injustice. Think about what you need to include in your drawing to communicate that. Don’t forget to extend the necklines down a little onto the next page so the next person knows where to continue on from.
  4. Keep the drawing a secret by folding over the top section and pass it on.
  5. For the next round, you and the other people draw the torso on the paper they received from someone else. They have to keep adding details to tell the story of a social injustice. Don’t forget, before you pass it on, to extend the end of the torso slightly onto the next section so the person knows where to continue on.
  6. Remember to hide what you have just drawn before you pass it on.
  7. For the last round, you and the other people draw the legs on the paper they have received from someone else, remembering to continue to tell a story in your drawings of a social injustice.
  8. Then it is time for the big reveal. What was revealed about social injustices?

4. Create a stop-motion animation about Social Justice Art

Stop Motion is an excellent an art form that allows you to creatively explore topics and communicate messages in unique and wonderful ways. Many artists have used stop motion to create powerful messages around social injustices. Now it is your turn.

  1. Download the ‘Stop Motion’ app onto your device. It is FREE.
  2. Watch this video how to use the app to create a stop motion

3. And watch this stop motion example for some inspiration.  

4. Think about a social injustice that you would like to explore in your stop motion. Think carefully about how you can communicate a message about this through your animation.

5. Use figures, toys, drawn images and/or written words to create your own stop motion.

5. Create your own Banksy-inspired Social Justice Art slogan

Banksy is a world-renowned, anonymous artist, based in England. He is, undoubtedly, an artist activist and his politically-minded street art has long provoked thought and conversation around important social issues with incredibly skilled stencils and deep-cutting slogans. Can you take on the challenge to create a Banksy-inspired activist slogan?

  1. Take a look at the work of Banksy. You can google his work too.
  2. Think about his works with phrases or words. What do they mean? What social commentary is he making? What is the power in his slogans?
  3. Thinking about what you observed through Banksy’s work, think about what you—as an artist—would use to as a slogan to make a commentary on a social injustice. Banksy’s slogans are simple with few words, but extremely powerful.
  4. When you are ready, create an art work that has a Banksy-inspired statement attached to it.

6. Create a Painting Over the Top of a Social Justice Newspaper Article

Newspapers are a great provocation for Social Justice Art. Articles prompt thinking about topics; they prompt a response as a readers and viewers. For artists, they can be a great tool to create powerful art works that speak volumes on social justice issues.

  1. Find a newspaper article on a social justice issue that you are passionate about.
  2. Think about your response to the contents of the article. How does it make you feel? What is your response to the contents? What is your opinion on the social injustice? Do you agree or  disagree with the article and its viewpoint? If you were to respond to the  article visually, what would your response look like?
  3. When you have thought about the article, the social injustice and your response, it is time to start creating. You are going use the newspaper article itself as the background for your art piece. Your visual response will go on top. You can use any materials. You may like to leave the headline or particular phrases or sections of the article revealed as part of your response.

 7. Create your own social justice advertisement for a social issue important to you.

Advertising is a powerful force – for good or bad. Quite often we see advertisements used to persuade us to believe unnecessary things, play into our insecurities or want things we don’t really need. But advertising can also be used to advocate for important issues and make people stop and think by using the three fundamentals of ethos (ethical appeal), pathos (emotional appeal) or logos (appeal to the logic). So, if you were to create an advertisement, what would you advocate for?

  1. Take a look at some powerful (but confronting) social justice advertising campaigns.
  2. What do the advertisers use to make people think about the issues? How do they make you feel?
  3. Now think about a social justice issue you would like to advocate for and create a powerful advertisement for it. You could draw it by hand or use digital tools. Think about your slogan.

8. Create an image that captures your feelings and thoughts on Corona.

Coronavirus has impacted all of our lives and we have many big feelings, thoughts and opinions about the impact it has had and the social justice issues that will arise from it. Art is a great way to express those feelings or share those opinions.

  1. Think about your feelings, thoughts or opinions on Coronavirus. Also think about the social justice issues that have risen—or will arise from it.
  2. Create an art work that captures your feelings, thoughts or opinions. Think about symbols, words or images that can tell the story or communicate your message.
  3. Get inspiration from the examples below.

9. Create a Social Justice Art ZINE

A Zine is a handmade, miniature magazine (or sometimes comic book) that explores lots of subculture topics and can often be a great way to creatively share art, words, thoughts and opinions on social injustices that are of personal interest. They have historically been used as advocacy tools. Zines can be created with anything from scrap paper and sharpies to typed pages and cut out images.

  1. Research some social justice zines. Here is a great example.
  2. Watch this great online tutorial on how to create a zine.
  3. Think about a social justice issue that is close to your heart. What do you want to say about it? What words, thoughts, opinions and images could you share about it?
  4. You can use the template on the link above or create your own to start making your zine.
  5. Don’t forget, your zine should communicate a message about your chosen social justice issue!

10. Study the symbols in our world that show bias. Re-design them.

There are many signs and symbols in our community that show bias and do not promote diversity, accessibility and inclusion. They are everywhere – from street signs and pedestrian lights to construction signs and toilets. The first step to eradicating bias is to notice it, then revision it. That’s your artistic job for this project.

  1.  You can research symbols, street signs and community signs on the internet, or you could also be an observer and pay attention to the signs in our community on a walk.
  2. Think about the symbols and signs carefully. What subconscious bias do they represent? How could the signs be more inclusive of diversity?
  3.  Now think of yourself as a designer. Your job is to re-design the symbols and signs so that they are inclusive and promote diversity. What would you keep? What would you change?

11. Create your own microscopic world using found objects in your home.

What would the world look like if it were microscopic? What would the world look like if it were free from social injustices? Have you every imagined that? Miniature art is an incredible way to zoom in on the details and imagine new worlds. There are so many amazing artists working on miniature scale. Now is your chance.

  1. Firstly, think about your vision of a utopic world that was free of social injustices. What would that look like? You might choose to pick a social injustice you’ve noticed and then imagine the opposite of that – a world where that social injustice had been eradicated.
  2. Now, with this in mind, do a quick sketch of your world.
  3. Before you get started creating, first take a look at some of the incredible miniature works of artist Tatsuya Tanaka to get inspiration.
  4. Then, go on a hunt around your house – what materials could you use to create your own miniature world? What could you use as a ‘shell’ for your miniature world? Get creative with the found objects. Explore tins and containers, toys and discarded objects, food and anything small.
  5. Transform your objects into your utopic miniature world.

12. Create your own pop-up card and give it to someone who needs some hope.

Isolation presents itself with many challenges; loneliness being one of them. Loneliness can lead to many social issues, including having a great impact on the mental wellbeing of people. But small gestures can make a big difference to someone, which is why you are invited to create a pop up card for someone who needs a bit of hope right now.

  1. If you wanted to send a message of hope, what would that look like? How do you give someone hope? What words or images would you use?
  2. Keeping those images in your mind start to think about your card design.
  3. Take a look at this great ‘Instructable’ tutorial on how to create various pop up card designs. You can keep it simple or get as complicated as some of the examples in the tutorial.
  4. You can get some inspiration from these incredible paper artists below.

13. Create an art work that reveals a hidden social injustice. 

When we go digging deep enough with our thinking on social justice, we discover many injustices and reveal many truths that often lay hidden. This activity is an opportunity to show, through art, is to shine a light on the social injustices often hidden.

  1. Take a look at the work of collage artist Erwan Soyer, below. He uses layers of paper to show hidden surfaces.
  2. Using this inspiration and concept, think about a social injustice that is sometimes buried, hidden or not often talked about. Your job is to reveal it through your art.
  3. Your underneath, base layer should explore the social injustice. You can do this using any   mediums or style – drawing, paint, collage… anything! Your top  layer should explore what is hiding it and someone revealing the bottom layer – the social injustice!

14. Create a ‘hands’ photography deck of cards

Like many parts of the human body, hands can tell a story about someone – the uniqueness of our fingerprints, the lines and marks that tell stories of where we have been and what we have done in our life and the skin tones that represent identity, race and culture. Human hands are telling and many artists have captured them in art works to document diversity.

  1. Starting with the people in your family – photograph each person’s hands. What do their hands say about them? What is their story?
  2. Here’s some inspiration on the stories our hands tell – and some more inspiration below from photographer Lee Jeffries!
  3. Encourage friends and other family members to do the same in their household and send you the photos.
  4. Create a deck of cards from the photographs you have created. 
  5. What diversity do you notice from each hand in the deck?

15. Create a deck of Social Justice Art trading cards.

Artist trading cards are miniature pieces of art that are designed to be traded with other artists. What better way to spread messages about social justice with other young art advocates than by creating Social Justice Art trading cards.

  1. Think about what social justice message you want to spread. How can you communicate that in a miniature art work?
  2. When you have an idea, create your card. The only rule for the card, is that it needs to be 64 x 89 mm. I recommend using a thicker card stock for this if you have it available to you. You could also use an old deck of playing cards as your base.
  3. Get creating. Artist Trading Cards are usually made from mixed media materials. Need inspiration? Check this out.
  4. When you are done creating, don’t forget to put a title, your name and the number of the card (in order of creation), the date and any information about your social issue on the back of the card.
  5. Encourage your friends to get involved in creating Social Justice Art trading cards for issues they are passionate about.
  6. Then… get trading!

16. Create Your Own Social Justice Art Piece

After all the exploring of social justice, social issues and social justice art, it is your turn to create your own independent Social Justice Art piece. These works used in the examples below were created by young artists in the Social Justice Art program.

  1. Hopefully, you have plenty of inspiration to create your own piece of advocacy.
  2. Think about your social justice issue and how you want to communicate it or what message you want to send about it through your art.
  3. Think carefully about the materials you have available to you at home and how you can use them to create a powerful art piece.
  4. Make your mark. Share your voice on what is important to you through your art! Join the social justice art warriors!