Banksy Revisited: Student Encounters w/ Critical Visual Literacy


A semester of being on A/B block for the first time has messed with my grand scheme a bit. Being sick since NCTE does not help much either. (I’ve concluded I will not be thinking clear-headedly much this week!) Still, I am excited to be venturing back into the microcosm of the artist known as Banksy. Two years ago I used his (her? their?) stencil-style graffiti art to introduce the impact visuals have on how we read the world with my students. In the first iterations, seen here and here, I was simply happy to have students create their own media, their own digital Banksy-style visuals to comment on the world around them. This year, however, I am hoping to guide my students to think through and write about their visual expressions. Inside today’s post are a few of the newest creations students have built as well as explanation of how we will work to make the experience a bit more critical as we close the semester.

 With the new Star Wars right around the corner, and me being a self-professed lover of the universe and its characters. I got into the spirit to introduce the task of creating Banky-style pieces by creating this little remix of Kyle Ren:


I honestly do not find my own piece to be all that creative, but I do think it gave my students, especially those unfamiliar with Banksy, a way to grapple with the project. We were able to have a fairly rich conversation while viewing my piece about what I was demonstrating as a creator/author and how the text really anchors the meaning of the image. For anyone interested, I developed a quick tutorial video on how I made this–you can find it here.

Here are some of the interesting pieces that are popping up so far by my students during the project:

184181-759438 - Kayla Cochran - Nov 30, 2015 1204 PM - Education (Kayla Cochran)

Not going to lie–I love this piece. The image speaks volumes with so few words and such a specific image.


This piece is fun and thought-provoking. I am interested to see what this student defines as the statement being made through the image and text.

186594-759438 - Demir Mehic - Nov 30, 2015 1156 AM - Demir Mehic Oprah and her BEES

This piece is a product of an internet ‘thing’ I was not aware of until I got this turned into me. All I can say is look up some Oprah with bees gifs on a Google search.

186474-759438 - Fiona Jones - Nov 30, 2015 1206 PM - Fiona Jones Banksy

I’m finishing with the one above because it is probably the most critical (meaning looking to generate change) than any of the others. This seems especially poignant with the current rumblings and climate in Hollywood.

So now that I have shown you all this, what now? To take this deeper, I want students to interpret one another’s images. On Friday, they will really begin this process and curate one another’s pieces. None of the pieces will have their names on them. After responding to one another pieces the composer will have an opportunity to clarify or accept their peers interpretations, which will lead to them writing a reflective-persuasive hybrid piece that will follow some of the rules of a rhetorical precis. Why? Because I think I can integrate better formal, academic writing with my strong belief that teaching visual literacy skills is a valuable use of our time in my classroom. I will be sure to let you know how it goes next week!


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