En la Clase: Teaching About Frida Kahlo

Frida CanvasAs you’ve read in recent posts, this month we’re celebrating women’s history through sharing resources about strong Latin American and Latina women.  With such a focus, it would be remiss not to highlight Frida Kahlo as part of this month.  Of course, we would advocate for teaching about Kahlo anytime of year, but I think she is of incredible importance when we’re discussing women who have changed the way in which we think about female identity and the role of women in society. We’ve made great strides in gender equality, and it’s important to recognize the multitudes of women (and men) who have helped to make that happen.  I particularly appreciated the discussion in the article “Embracing the Modern Female Heroine–In All Her Forms” by the Children’s Book Cooperative (CBC).  It’s vital that we continue to highlight the ways in which we are challenging and redefining what it means to be a woman in today’s society because it is certainly happening and our students need to be aware of it:

While the challenges of ethnic, racial, and sexual diversity still loom large, I found some comfort this past year in seeing an emergence of strong, complex, and challenging female characters depicted in modern entertainment. Women depicted making morally questionable choices.  Women whose principle dilemmas didn’t revolve around a dashing leading man. Women who took on what society often dictates as standard male personality traits (physical and emotional strength, relentless determination, and even questionable moral conduct) and redefined them as their own. Women who traveled down paths of their own making, shaped by a clear understanding of who they are as people, and holding onto that identity with all they have.” (From Embracing the Modern Female Heroine–In All Her Forms)

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WWW: Back in Activism!

¡Feliz viernes a todos!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday break. Thank you for joining me again. This semester we are kicking off with a focus on activism. You may notice that many of our upcoming posts connect and highlight important activists in Latin America, the organizations they belong to, or the programs they founded. In honor of the focus on activism, I am highlighting some of Ana Teresa Fernández’s recent work on “erasing” the U.S.-Mexico border—using art!

Vamos a Leer | WWW: Back in Activism!Ana Teresa Fernández is a Mexican-American artist. She and a group of thirty volunteers teamed up to paint the border fence in Nogales, Sonora a light blue color in order to blend it with the sky. In her video about the project, Fernández talked about the fence as a “symbol of hate and pain.” She thought to change that by making it invisible (at least a piece of it). Her work constitutes activism “because it re-contextualizes a possibility. It makes you not see the border — just for a split second — and [makes you see] how two countries can exist, or coexist, peacefully,” said Fernández in an interview with Raquel Reichard from Latina. To her, the problem of the border fence is that it divides two groups of people who could otherwise live in harmony. The idea, while earning support from many people, sparked hate in some who have taken to writing hate mail and nasty correspondence to the artist. Continue reading

En la Clase: Rethinking Conquest Using David Alfaro Siqueiros’ Collective Suicide

In last week’s En la Clase, I talked about why it’s important to spend some time thinking about how and what we teach about conquest, colonization, and historical figures like Christopher Columbus.  I also linked to a number of previous posts we’ve done that highlight lesson plans and resources on the topic, so please check that out if you missed it.  In today’s post I share a new lesson plan that we created this fall to add to our teaching resources for rethinking conquest and colonization in the classroom.

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En la Clase: Stitching Resistance through Chilean Arpilleras

Arpillera coverAs you may know from yesterday’s post, we’re continuing our series of thematic workshops around the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s exhibit “Stitching Resistance: The History of Chilean Arpilleras.”  Our series began last spring, and was so popular that we decided to add a third workshop this fall, as the exhibit will be up through January, 2014.

For today’s En la Clase post, I thought I’d share some of the information and curriculum materials that we wrote about last year.  Many of our new readers may not be aware of the many resources available to teach about the art and history of the Chilean Arpilleras.  The timing is appropriate, just last week September 11th marked the anniversary of the 1973 Chilean Military Coup in which Salvador Allende was overthrown and Augusto Pinochet came to power.  The arpilleras were part of the protest movement against Pinochet.  Continue reading

En la Clase: “Comparing Herstories: The Arpilleristas of Chile and African American Women Quilters in the U.S.” (part 2 of 2)

Monday’s post was the first in this two part series on teaching about the history of Chilean Arpilleras as women’s protest art in Pinochet’s Chile.  In collaboration with the National Hispanic Cultural Center, we held a series of workshops this spring around the exhibition, “Stitching Resistance: The History of Chilean Arpilleras,” which is on view at the NHCC from October 19, 2012 through January, 2014.  If you missed Monday’s discussion, definitely check it out, as it will provide some necessary historical content on the topic.  Today’s post looks at some possible ways to integrate a unit on Chilean arpilleras into your curriculum, through hands-on activities. You’ll find supplementary guides and a lesson plan for creating your own arpillera at the end of the post, so be sure to scroll down.

Arpillera coverI know when I was teaching in the classroom, it wouldn’t have necessarily been easy to justify a unit on the history of Chilean arpilleras.  Continue reading