Grade level:


Approximate Lesson Duration:

Unit/Lesson New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS):

1.4.8.A.1 , 1.4.8.A.1, 1.4.8.A.4, 1.4.8.A.5, 1.4.8.A.6

Brief Summary of Cultural Competencies Related to the Unit/Lesson:

In 1984 the Museum of Modern Art in New York put on an exhibition called An International Survey of Painting and Sculpture that claimed to show all the important art that was happening at that time. Of the 169 artists included, only 13 were women and there were no black artists at all. 

The Guerrilla Girls formed in New York in 1985 with the mission of bringing gender and racial inequality into focus within the greater arts community and is still doing so 30 years later. The group employs culture jamming in the form of posters, books, billboards, and public appearances to address systemic biases against women and people of color in the art world. To remain anonymous, members wear gorilla masks and use pseudonyms that refer to deceased female artists. The group produced a series of protest posters highlighting the stunning scarcity of female artists, and near-total absence of black artists, represented in major museums and art galleries.

Their iconic posters employed polished graphic design and catchy slogans, inverting mainstream marketing tactics to lambast these artistic institutions. The Guerrilla Girls’ approach to protest art proved both effective and influential, and the group continues to successfully spark dialogues about representation and diversity. The Guerrilla Girls use real facts and figures in their posters to make their point, they say they are ‘fighting discrimination with facts’. But as well as facts, they use humour to change people’s minds. One journalist described them as ‘quippy as well as lippy’.

In this project the students will research an issue they are passionate about. Using the work of the Guerrilla Girls, as well as work by other artists such as Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Keith Haring, Alison Bechdel… They will study how the media uses imagery to try to influence our thinking. Then they will use that same imagery to create their own ad campaign to bring attention to a subject that is important to them. This project will not only teach them how to use graphic design effectively, but will also provide them with tools to help navigate the influence of social media and as well as other media.

Lesson Overview:

Essential Question(s)
  • When should an individual take a stand against what they believe to be an injustice? What are the most effective ways to do this?
  • In what ways can a minority keep their issues on the larger culture’s “radar screen?”
Enduring Understanding(s)
  • Students will begin to see the influence mass media has on their life and decision making
  • Through visual creation they can express themselves
  • Art can be used as a social tool to question and challenge
Potential Misconceptions

Learning plan, experiences, intstruction and learning activities:

What is Expected?
  • List the intentional learning objectives on the board.

Students will be able to:

  •  Explore ways to use art as a way to influence
  •  Balance social commentary with strong visual imagery
What is expected?
How will we hook (Introduce this to) the students?
  • Activate thinking
  • Consider the language you will use to introduce the lesson (See example in the table)

Link to Engagement

Include all voices in our historical  narrative

Turn and talk to a partner about… Who chooses which side of history gets told? How is it possible to ensure that you are hearing the complete story?

In your sketchbook, write your thoughts on both the positive and negative ways you think media influences you. What messages are directed towards you? Why? What is the most effective ways they get your attention?

What equipment, resources, or materials are needed?

Device to show Guerrilla Girl video,

Samples of Guerrilla Girls’ work (1986 Report Card, You are only Seeing Less Than Half The Picture, The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist, Dearest Art Collector), samples of work by Barbara Kruger (I Shop Therefore I Am, Belief and Doubt), Jenny Holzer (billboards), poster designs by Human Rights Campaign, Keith Haring’s work such as Crack is Wack, Banky’s Keep Your Coins, I Want Change, Ai Weiwei’s Coca Cola Vase or #aiflowers (Choose work that will resonate with your students)

This project lends itself to digital art, but any materials that can be used for graphic design will work.

How will we rethink or revise our thinking throughout the lesson?
  • What learning is confirmed?
  • What misconceptions are uncovered?
  • What is your new thinking?
  • Students may approach this like a book report. They will have to learn how to use imagery and minimal words to get message across
  •  Students will learn to be aware of how the media tries to influence thinking
How will students self-evaluate and reflect on their learning?

Students will be able to assess the quality of their projects through class, as well as teacher, critiques

How will we tailor learning to varied needs, interests, and learning styles?
  • Have examples of art by multiple artists using various materials
  • Allow students to choose a topic that interests them and provide multiple avenues to approach their final piece
  • Modifications can be made to accommodate any students with specific needs
How will we organize the sequence of learning during the lesson?

Scaffold the Instruction


  1. Display several works by The Guerrilla Girls and explain how their marketing tactics were more sophisticated than that of any previous feminist campaigns. They imitated advertising, and appealed to the eye of the educated mass consumer. Because of this, they engaged a much broader audience. 
  2. Bring up some popular ad campaigns directed towards your students’ demographic. Encourage students to ask questions. Help them find ways to sort facts from opinion, identify advertising, understand bias and be aware of the misuse of statistics. Also, talk about how advertising sells ideas as well as products. For example, you could encourage your students to ask:
  • Does this advertisement link the product with a particular kind of lifestyle?
  • How does that make you feel about the product?
  • What messages does this advertisement send about what girls, boys, women and men should look like, wear, do, eat and drink?
  1. Lead discussion: Show work by other artists (Kruger, Holzer, Haring…) How do these artists turn typographic messages back on advertisers? Their work was mass-marketed, provocative, and ultimately disposable. Their tactics  also indicate the attempt to reclaim public space to address the privatization of culture and the unequal access to cultural resources.

Guided Practice

  1. Discuss possible ideas for this project as a class. How do you feel you are represented by media? Do you feel it is accurate? Is there something you would like people to know? Is there a topic that you feel is not getting enough media attention? 
  2. Show examples of how advertisers use color, layout, imagery, humor… to catch your attention.

Independent Practice

  1. Students will return to their sketchbooks to begin to sketch out ideas 
  2. Students will choose an issue that is relevant to them and gather information. Is this issue being misrepresented in media? Ignored by media? What do they want people to know? They need to gather accurate information so their work is driven by facts. 
  3. Then they need to find which media imagery they are drawn to and think about why. Humor in memes? Black and white photography against a particular color? 
  4. Students will continue to plan until they have solidified their composition and have chosen materials that will help them achieve their vision.

Independent and Guided Practice

  1. Students will confer with teacher and peers to make final decisions regarding their work, ensuring that their meaning is clear, and that they are using color and layout to draw the viewer’s eye to the focus of the work
  2. Students will complete work while using materials properly

Check for understanding:

(Formative evidence such as conferencing, group Q/A, teacher observation, exit-slip, etc.)

Contributions to class discussions and class critiques

Conferencing during independent practice

Quiz/Test (optional):
(attach copy of assessment)

Performance Task/Project:
(attach rubric)

Project rubric including self reflection component

Self Reflection

Please write a paragraph expanding on these questions.Do not simply answer each question (they don’t all have to be answered.) Use these as a guide to reflect on your final piece.

Did you learn anything interesting about how media tries to influence you? Did your work have a clear message based in fact? Did the materials you choose add to the overall effect? Do you feel you were successful? Why or why not? Did any of your classmates’ art stand out to you? Why? If you could go back and restart, would you do things the same way? If not, what would you change? Why?


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