Social Injustice Posters

Objective: Artists will create a series of posters that depict a social injustice through the use of expressive imagery.


For this unit 5th grade students began by learning about a variety of influential artists who have used their work to promote awareness surrounding various social injustices, focusing mainly on the art of German printmaker, Käthe Kollwitz. We examined several images of her prints from the series “The Weavers” and “The Peasant War” which depict the effects of poverty, hunger and war on the working class. We focused on how she was able to convey powerful messages without words through her use of expressive imagery.

With this background my young artists were asked to think like activists and bring awareness to a social injustice that they saw within their community. After sketching out their ideas they carved their designs onto soft-cut linoleum blocks (styrofoam works as well). Students were able to print multiple posters that they displayed throughout the school community as a way to bring attention to a social injustice.

I loved being able to have critical conversations with my young artists throughout this unit. Their work was intentional, thoughtful, and they had so many meaningful things to say! I highly encourage all teachers to allow students the opportunity to have a dialogue about many of these important topics. Elementary students are NOT too young! Give them the opportunity to use their voice and encourage them to speak up and take action. Kids have and will continue to change the world, as educators we can help light the way.

Visual Inspiration: The art of Käthe Kollwitz

'Sturm (Riot).' Etching with Stippling by Käthe Kollwitz, (1893-7)
'The Volunteers' ('Die Freiwilligen'), Woodcut by Käthe Kollwitz, 1921.
'A woman and a boy visiting a man in hospital.' Woodcut by Käthe Kollwitz, 1929.

Student Art Examples