We began this unit in November when the President of the United States had just been chosen. As a class we had a discussion around what makes a true leader. We used the web based site called Popplet.com to create mind maps listing different qualities we thought a leader should have, what type of leader we would be, and who we believed was a leader to us. Qualities students named were being brave, kind, work well with others, strategic, and competitive. In addition to working in the art studio we joined forces with their teachers and the literacy team to create an essay asking those same questions. Students wrote about leaders they admired such as George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, and Malala Yousafzai.
In the art studio, we examined artwork of leaders throughout history such as King Tut, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Queen Elizabeth, and Nelson Mandela. We watched a video clip where the past President Obama shared the qualities he believed his successor should have. We began a discussion on if we could rule a land what would it be like? What would we wear? What would our expression be in our self portrait? We started drawing our faces from observation using specific portrait techniques. Next, we added in fun accessories such as what we would wear and what jewels and crown might adorn us. To add color, we used watercolor and finished it off with color pencil for the small areas and to add shading. A contemporary artist we looked to for some inspiration was Kehinde Wiley who paints African American men and women in heroic poses often recreated based off of other historic artists. This lesson was adapted from the blog In The Studio.