Lisa Kristine: Where Art Meets Activism

LisaKristineThis summer, at the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, I had the chance to see Lisa Kristine’s photography. To say it is stunning is to underestimate the impact. Lisa Kristine creates more than beautiful art. She inspires. The biography on her website states:

Acclaimed humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine creates more than images, she inspires change. A master storyteller, Lisa documents indigenous cultures in more than 100 countries on six continents, instinctively identifying the universal human dignity in all of us. Awakening compassion and igniting action in a worldwide audience with powerful, broad-sweeping images of courage and tender, intimate portrayals, Lisa elevates significant social causes—such as the elimination of human slavery and the unification of humanity—to missions. Her work resonates in the heart and moves us to act.

Kristine works at the intersection of art and activism. What she creates is often beautiful and unquestionably powerful. But it is art in service of understanding. And I’ve been thinking about it since I saw it.

childslaveNot all Kristine’s work, particularly some of the photographs illuminating modern slavery, is appropriate for the youngest students. But students of many levels can understand using images to help others understand. Think about using photos from her website as examples and then challenging students to do some of the following.

  1. If you teach art, challenge students to think about something they are passionate about and create photographs that will help someone else understand how they feel.
  2. If you teach language arts, think about having students create a visual essay about their world, life, or community. Each photograph (or other image) can be accompanied by a brief description explaining its significance.
  3. As you study community or environmental issues in science or social studies, consider how your students might use images to spur others to action. This could be particularly powerful where students have the chance to  think about creating beautiful images that illustrate problematic situations.
  4. If you teach older students, consider having them watch Kristine’s TED talk on contemporary slavery. It is a hard subject, but if we do not talk about it, how will it ever change? And what better subject for creative efforts?

If you’d like to see the talk, here’s the link. I feel confident you’ll be thinking about it, as I have.

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