Activity 1: The Messages of Our Culture(s)

Activity 1: The Messages of Our Culture(s)
Activity 1: The Messages of Our Culture(s)

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Large sheet of mural paper
  • Color markers and/or paints and brushes
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Music player and instrumental selections
  • Optional: Talking stick (or another item to pass to each speaker)

Preparation for Activity

  • Prepare eight to ten minutes of instrumental music to play during the art-making portion of the activity. Test the music player and queue the music.
  • Select a large work table, wall, or floor space that will be accessible to all participants, and cover the area with mural paper. Secure the paper with tape.
  • Set out markers or paints.

Description of Activity

Remind participants, in these words or your own:

We are all shaped by multiple cultural influences, and these influences differ from person to person. They may include our geographic, ethnic, racial, socioeconomic, or gender identity or affectional orientation; professional and religious contexts in which we have grown up or now live; and other influences. Different influences may be more or less important in shaping our sense of identity and the values we hold.

Invite the group to reflect, and, as they feel moved, to share what they think of as their single most important cultural identity. Ask them to name only one significant cultural identity at this time. Request that participants not respond or discuss, but simply give one another the gift of listening. Allow five minutes for this sharing.

Then call attention to the mural paper you have posted. Invite participants to use the art materials you have set out to draw an image to represent a fundamental message they have taken from their own culture about money and wealth. Remind them that their cultural background may include race, ethnicity, geography, social class, gender identity, affectional orientation, or professional or religious affiliation. Play instrumental music and give participants eight minutes to work. With one minute left, ask everyone to complete their drawings and then to write a few words as a summary or bumper-sticker slogan that reflects the core message their image evokes or represents for them.

Then gather everyone at the mural to witness the range of images and ideas that have been expressed. Give people two or three minutes to reflect.

Lead a large group discussion with these questions:

  • What images or phrases catch your attention or resonate with you?
  • Which are most difficult for you to relate to?
  • What surprises you?
  • Are there commonalities you can see on the wall?
  • What cultural contexts seem most present?
  • Is there anything you feel is missing from our wall?

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