US History and Printmaking: Propaganda Posters

Teacher: Kristin Ferrales (2014-15), Tom Houston (2015-16); US history

School: Urban Assembly School for Law & Justice

Project Goal(s): Students will understand the motives and methods of governments and organizations that use visual propaganda to promote a cause or movement. Students will employ similar techniques to promote a contemporary cause of their choosing.

Description of Activities

One session in each initial unit of Spring semester was devoted to an examination of the use of propaganda (US imperialism, the Great Depression). Students then chose their own contemporary issue (Black Lives Matters, the Fight for $15), conducted research, and looked at examples of contemporary political art. Students then worked under the guidance of a guest artist to create an original linocut and make prints.

Arts Partner(s)

Abrons Arts Center


"Students were highly engaged in the process of creating their block prints. Students thought thematically about different topics/problems/events in the US History course. Students enjoyed having choice--they were able to pick any topic they were interested in. Many students incorporated specific art techniques that our teaching artist modeled for them in designing their final prints. Students took pride in their work at our final art show, and students in other courses visited the show and expressed interest in doing this type of work. Almost every single student said that they thought this unit should be incorporated into US History next year (and many wanted to have multiple projects like this one)."

"I wish I had planned for more time in the unit--ideally, if done again, this would be a 2 week unit instead of one."

"This was great--I truly enjoyed the planning and execution of this project! To do this again, I would need to budget for additional purchase of blocks and tools--we purchased some, but Abrons provided enough tools for all students to be able to create at the same time--with the purchased materials that is not currently possible.