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Juniors Consider How Inequity Impacts Visual Narratives

October 19, 2023

Juniors taking part in IB Language & Literature have explored how societal imbalances impact the media we consume. To date, students have completed "The Great Gatsby", have studied Bong Joon-ho’s "Parasite", and have read an excerpt from Tricia Hersey’s "Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto", all of which have inspired conversations surrounding how themes of race, class, and labor manifest in literature, journalism, film, and television. To further expand on their classroom studies, students viewed the “Rest is Power” exhibit at New York University’s Center for Black Visual Culture (CBVC) on Friday, October 13th.

“A key goal of the IB program is to encourage learners to conduct themselves as principled, balanced, and open-minded participants in the world,” began Upper School English Teacher Ms. French when asked about the importance of studying art that discets inequity. She continued, “In thinking of the reality of racialized inequality in our country, both historically and presently, students were challenged in the ‘Rest is Power’ exhibition to see the ways in which art could fight back against oppressive and unjust systems.”

The exhibit explores the idea of rest being an act of radical resistance in works spanning several mediums including photography, painting, and poetry. When asked about how the exhibit helped enhance classroom learning, Ms. French explained that “an essential question guiding the IB Language & Literature Year 1 course is How can texts offer multiple perspectives of a single issue, topic or theme?” In the classroom, students had recently read Tricia Hersey’s Rest is Resistance, which calls people in the working class to resist “hustle culture” and to instead value rest. “All of the pieces in the exhibition ‘Rest is Power’ spoke to [this idea], directly inspired by Hersey's work, providing students with another perspective on how power and equality may be pursued within and against oppressive systems of inequality. Through these varied and valuable perspectives, students gain a sense of nuance that is crucial for their future as global changemakers,” continued Ms. French.

While at the CBVC, students also had the opportunity to speak with curator Kira Joy Williams, with whom students thoughtfully shared their thoughts, comments, and meaningful questions.

Upon their return to 1 Morris Street, students participated in a discussion surrounding what they saw and how they felt while at the exhibit. They were also tasked with completing a full analysis of the content, style, composition, and context of a piece of their choosing, ultimately relating it back to previous classwork through analytical writing.

To learn more about the IB Program at Léman, click here.

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