Fighters for Freedom
Johnson created a series of paintings called Fighters for Freedom depicting famous men and women who were in the forefront of the struggle for racial equality in America. The series also included paintings documenting important historical events and world leaders.
Johnson worked on Fighters for Freedom at the end of World War II, and considered the series to be his contribution to postwar peace and understanding. Many of the paintings in this series take the form of "attribute portraits," a long-standing tradition in art in which symbols represent important events, places, economic status, or profession to communicate information about the subject's life.
Work on these activities after fully exploring Fighters for Freedom.
- As a group, create a timeline with pictures and information about significant African-American scientists and inventors. Include on your list Benjamin Banneker, George Washington Carver, Charles Drew, Garret Morgan, and Daniel Hale Williams.
- In his paintings of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington Carver, and Marian Anderson, Johnson included symbols to help describe each person's important achievements. Make a list of your own achievements, personality traits, and important life experiences. Think about how you could turn the items on your list into visual symbols to convey information about yourself. Create a self-portrait that is made up of your personal symbols. Share your self-portrait with your class.
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