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Norman Rockwell - The Four Freedoms


From: Mark Alexander (malexander06_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Sep 23 2001 - 09:49:07 PDT

I'm doing an illustration project with my 5th graders based on Norman
Rockwell's Four Freedoms. Painted in 1946, these paintings/illustrations
were a direct reaction to FDR's Four Freedoms speech made just after the
Pearl Harbor attack. The four freedoms are Freedom of speech, Freedom from
want, Freedom to worship, and Freedom from fear.

First, I found an audio version of FDR's speech, and played it for the
students (I have the address at school and will post it tomorrow if you're
interested). Then I asked them to compare FDR's speech to the speech to the
American people that our current president made on Thursday following the
attacks on NY, DC, and PA. I was impressed that at least half of the kids
had listened to the speech the night before (interrupted the Yankees game I
guess) and they were able to see many of the correlations between them.

Then I showed them reproductions of Rockwell's Four Freedoms. They noticed
details such as the variety of ethnicity and religions in the Freedom to
worship painting, and the newspaper headlines about bombings and attacks
visible to the observant in the Freedom from fear painting.

Then they brainstormed freedoms they might want to illustrate, and each
began a large scale crayon wax resist painting of a freedom they find
important. It has been hard for them to use symbolism, rather than literal
scenes, but most are getting it.

One of the coolest side benefits has been the table conversations as they
work, about positive aspects of our democracy, and their fears of these
freedoms being threatened. I'm relieved that most of the illustrations are
rather pacifist in nature, and center around ideas such as freedom from war
and hate.