Storytelling Through Art

“I love that this project gives me a chance to step out of my comfort zone a little,” said Lexi ‘24. “I’m relating my real life to my art, and I’ve always wanted to do that.”

In Art Teacher Natalya Bernstein’s “Art + Activism” course, students are making projects inspired by William Kentridge and Swoon. Both artists make work about world-wide and personal historic events using paper cutting, printmaking, and film. They’re both use their art to tell stories. After researching these artists, students workshopped six different concepts before choosing one to use as a larger final project. The final product will have to relate to their own life, their family history, or a large-scale global event. 

The class is currently working on their final pieces and had many various topics that they were exploring. From understanding the symbolism of the sun to honoring a lost relative, the projects are meaningful and inspiring. Allie ‘26 is creating digital art in favor of transgender rights, especially as governments across the United States work to eliminate them, she explained. “It’s becoming more and more of an issue. I like drawing and I wanted to use that skill to make something that can help people.” 

Lexi is exploring the sun as a theme, after taking inspiration from Swoon who also used it in her work. Though she is still experimenting with her concept, the piece she is currently working on features a motif of uncertainty, with the sun peeking out in the corner. “It’s like looking out at the sun and knowing that everything will be okay.” The piece is made with watercolors and papercutting, techniques that she hasn’t used often before, but is excited to try. 

Students are encouraged to use new mediums for their art and try a lot of new skills; the guidelines are intentionally flexible to give the class the freedom to find the best way to share their ideas. “Being able to tell stories about your own life or past history is a really powerful activism tool,” said Natalya. “It’s the way we connect to each other and create strong communities.”

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