For over two hundred years artists and designers have created images addressing freedoms of expression, including those protected in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The American artist, Norman Rockwell, created the Four Freedoms series of posters in 1943 in response to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address (known as his “Four Freedoms Speech”). These posters have inspired many other artists since that time and are the primary focus for this artistic response activity, in particular the Freedom from Fear poster. (The posters may be downloaded from the Thoughts on Democracy section of the website and are also reproduced in the printed instructor guide.)
- Allow students to arrive at their own conclusions about the Rockwell poster by facilitating an open group discussion using the Visual Thinking Strategies© methodology:
- What’s going on in this picture?
- What do you see that makes you say that?
- What more can we find?
NOTE: Use the second question to prompt students when they do not provide evidence for their reasoning; for example, “What do you see that makes you say that the man looks sad?”
After this discussion, IF students request more information, you can provide some historical background on Rockwell’s creation of these posters in 1943. You may address the production of propaganda to promote the sale of war bonds and FDR’s “Four Freedoms Speech” to Congress and the American people. (The text of the speech is included in the Lesson Resources. A video is also available online.)
- What might the U.S. citizens in 1943 have been fearful of
- Why does Rockwell feel that fighting for freedom from fear is a collective issue, an issue that is “OURS…to fight for”?
- Are we engaged in a collective fight for freedom from fear today? If so, what causes us to feel fearful?
- What can we do as a community to lessen the impact of these fears?