Art as Advocacy

9, 10, 11, 12

The learners view works of art that advocate for social change and find that art can influence social change. The learners select an issue of human rights and create a work of art that represents the issue. They write a paragraph of explanation about their work.

PrintOne Fifty-Five Minute Session

The learner will:

  • analyze art related to the historic contributions of César E. Chávez, Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers
  • brainstorm human rights issues
  • create art as advocacy and write a description of the artwork

resource handout: Information about César Chávez

Teacher Preparation 

Art from the heart: Celebrate artistic talents and find a way to share these talents with others. Follow youth voices to find an organization or group of people who would appreciate a poem, greeting card, or homemade piece of art to brighten their day or let them know someone cares. This may be soldiers, veterans, elderly people in a retirement home, or a local child with a serious illness.



  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Prior to meeting, locate online images of the two pieces of artwork: "Humanscape NO.65" by Melesio Casas at and “Sun Mad Raisins” by Ester Hernández. Display the two works of art. Have participants meet in small groups to brainstorm these questions using their prior knowledge: What do you think these works of art may be about? What problem is being addressed by voluntary action?

  2. Bring their small group discussions to a whole group discussion.

  3. These works were created to support the work of César Chávez, Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers. If necessary, briefly tell about the advocacy of César Chávez (See handout for background information), and about the two works of art and their connection to the United Farm Workers.

  4. Facilitator Note: “Humanscape 65” is a picture of a farm worker under the protective covering of the United Farm Workers flag. The red flag has a black Aztec eagle on it and the words, “!Si Se Puede!” meaning, “Yes We Can!” César Chávez said about the flag, “A symbol is an important thing. That is why we chose an Aztec eagle. It gives pride . . . When people see it they know it means dignity.”

    Ester Hernández grew up in the San Joaquin Valley of California, where she unknowingly bathed in and drank polluted water and worked in an environment contaminated by pesticides. Questions about the effects of pesticides on agricultural workers prompted her to create Sun Mad Raisins.

  5. Tell youth that visual artists and musicians often comment on human rights issues through their artwork. Ask if they can name some examples of artists/musicians/songwriters as examples.

  6. Brainstorm school or community human rights issues that are a source of concern to them or their family and neighbors. How would you speak about the issue through a work of art?

  7. Distribute drawing paper and art supplies. Participants may work as individuals or pairs to create a work of art or poster that graphically displays a human rights issue. A brief explanation should accompany the work. A simple image that symbolizes a message and a few words can make a powerful impact. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.6 Describe how the civil society sector is often the origin of new ideas, projects and innovation and social renewal.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
      2. Benchmark HS.5 Describe civil society advocacy organizations and their relationship to human rights.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Analyze philanthropic traditions of diverse cultural groups and their contributions to civil society.
      2. Benchmark HS.7 Identify and give examples of the important roles women and minorities have played in the civil society sector in history.
    3. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Give examples of how civil society sector giving by individuals and corporations can impact communities.
    4. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.11 Discuss why organizations in the civil society sector work to protect minority voices.
      2. Benchmark HS.12 Explain why private action is important to the protection of minority voices.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.