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Lesson Plans

Re: Gang-related "art"

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Teresa Tipton (
Sat, 31 May 1997 10:01:04 -0700 (PDT)

What's missing in this discussion about gang-related art for me is the
power of the symbol and the meanings attached to it. Symbols, afterall,
are a part of visual language and language is a symbol system. Things that
are banned instead of dealt with may be buried only to surface in new
ways/areas. If we want to reach these students with a message beyond a
punitive one, it seems to me that we need to ENGAGE in INQUIRY with the
underlying meanings the symbols evoke; why certain symbols are chosen
for certain effects and generalize the discussion beyond gang-specific
symbols to this entire realm of our brains that creates symbols and
attaches meaning to them.

Teresa Tipton

On Sat, 31 May 1997, Lorena Nalin wrote:

> I am certainly far from expert on this topic, but as far as I know (an this
> may be regional in interpretation) the eight-ball is drug related -
> heroin; the ying/yang is also drug related. Comedy/tragedy masks (laugh
> today, cry tommorrow) is gang related.
> According to our gang prevention expert, There are some other large ganster
> groups that use stars (five and six points) top hat, cane, & white gloves.
> I'm sure there are a host of others and they are very "for the moment".
> Some of these groups may not be in your community, so it would be best to
> investigate what gangs are dominate in your city.
> I hate to have such fragmented information, hope it helps.
> Lorena Nalin
> Tucson
> >Lorena and others:
> >
> >I'd be interested in knowing what is considered "gang symbols", because . . .
> >
> >Last year, in a new teaching assignment, the eight-ball, yin-yang, peace,
> >alien faces, and NIKE were all symbols my 5/6th grades students would turn
> >to when doing ANY designing project. I, personally, was fed up with it and
> >banned all from any art project this year. However, each student keeps a
> >sketch book in class, and they can (if they finish work early), doodle
> >whatever they want in it--as long as it's not obscene, etc. My reasoning
> >for the ban was that these symbols were not their creations and the NIKE
> >symbol was in fact a copy-righted design. Many grumbles, but they've been
> >pretty good about keeping it off their art assignments.
> >
> >This past week is the last I'll see of them, so for a quickie end of the
> >year assignment I held a "Yin-Yang Yo, Peace Out, and NIKE It Day" for this
> >grade level. They had to pick one symbol, and come up with four different
> >functional or decorative uses for their chosen symbol. On the back of their
> >paper they could doodle as many of these symbols as they wanted. We held a
> >"share" time where each presented their ideas to the class. The first
> >class (more competitive?) just had to vote on the most creative ideas, the
> >second class was rather laid back, and today's class had a rip-roaring,
> >applaude everyone time!
> >
> >Now I'm wondering which of these symbols are gang related??
> >
> >Cheryl
> >
> >On Wednesday, May 28th, Lorena wrote:
> >>
> >>The topic of gang symbols and tagging and other images came up and I would
> >>be interested to know what other art teachers attend to regarding known
> >>gang-related images,and do schools/districts have policies regarding such
> >>issues.
> >>
> >>Awhile ago, I related the story of a student who was drawing such things as
> >>the ying-yang, the "laugh today/cry tommorrow" comedy-tragedy masks, the
> >>eight-ball and such and those drawings were confiscated, as per school
> >>policy, and the parent called the newspaper demanding first-ammendent
> >>rights and censureship of their artistic rights. The matter was resolved
> >>quickly by the principal.
> >>
> >>For those districts adopting policies, what types of things are included?
> >>
> >>Lorena Nalin
> >>Tucson, AZ