Graffiti and mural painting, we have concluded, are like mac and cheese. They go together. They can stand on their own, but when blended they make a stronger statement. Our lesson plan “Public Spaces: A Graffiti Letter Resist” gives students the opportunity to explore both art styles and see how well they blend into one.
Graffiti and mural painting are both forms of public art with rich historic significance. Art found in caves in France, Africa, and Australia give us early examples of mural painting. These early pieces focused on daily activities, rituals, and animals. The Greeks and Romans added text to their public images starting what we now call graffiti. Graffiti is often referred to as a form of visual communication. These two forms of public art can be found worldwide.
Today’s public art takes on many forms with many different artists leading the charge. These forms of urban expression can show a community interest and/or beautify a neighborhood. They can also be used to express social or political concerns. Let’s not forget the school spirit that is captured via murals on the walls of many school buildings. Take a tour of your community and take in all the public art. Discuss its meaning both positive and negative.
Research mural and graffiti artists. Here are a few to start with:
- Diego Rivera is a well-known Mexican muralist whose mural traditions are carried on today in many of our Hispanic neighborhoods.
- American artist Robert Wyland took to mural painting to create support and awareness for the protection of whales. His life-size whales can be seen all over the country.
- Prominent graffiti artists include Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, and Jean-Michael Basquiat. All three have been recognized for their outstanding talents.
By combining these two urban art forms, graffiti and mural painting, your students can create a graffiti letter resist. In this lesson, students will choose a school-safe graffiti word and create a mural-like background to enhance its meaning. See our lesson plan “Public Spaces: A Graffiti Letter Resist” for more details.
When students complete their graffiti letter resists, display the artwork. Discuss the personal meaning of the graffiti, the typeface chosen, how it was changed and/or adapted, along with the significance of the mural-like background.
Public Spaces: A Graffiti Letter Resist Objectives
Students will practice writing in several graffiti-style typefaces.
Students will use a variety of drawing media to apply their typography and a background illustration to their artwork.
Tips, Ideas, and Discussion Topics
Have students select a favorite location or city to highlight.
Share with students various typefaces. Discuss how these typefaces can be elongated, intertwined, and overlapped to turn them into exciting graffiti text. Show examples and have students experiment.
Have students experiment with different types of outlines and shading to make their graffiti pop off the page.
Share examples of illuminated manuscripts or another form of letter enhancement.
Share some of the historic forms of mural painting. Discuss the unique mediums used to create these early murals.
Discuss murals that are in your community and talk about the meaning and impact of the artwork.
Discuss what words and objects students would want to feature in an all-school mural if they could create one. What special meaning is behind each word and object?
Work together in groups, if possible, to create a large-scale piece on roll paper or mural canvas.
More Graffiti and Mural Art Lesson Plans & Ideas
Want to try something else? Be sure to check out these other art lesson plans and view our Art Lesson Plan collection for even more.
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For Nadine, art education has been her life’s work, including an Ohio teaching license, 5 years teaching elementary art, and 19 years in higher education (teacher prep). She has served Sax for 25 years as a Category Account Manager, Art Consultant, and Subject Matter Expert. In the latter capacity, Nadine has presented at various national, state, and local conferences.
After 24 years as a college admissions director, Mary crossed over to provide the materials for art education as a member of Sax, first as manager of Inside Sales, then as National Sales Manager. Mary has overseen a team of 15 art consultants. In 2000 Mary and her team created Sax Lesson Plan Book partnerships with prominent art supplies vendors. Meanwhile, she has refined her own artful style of presentation at various national, state and local conferences.