Smithsonian

Rosa Parks: Part A

Taking a Close Look

1. Use an opaque projector to enlarge the reproduction of Rosa Parks.

2. Without mentioning the title or subject of the sculpture, ask students to describe it as closely as possible. Then have them speculate about the story behind the sculpture. Use the questions below to elicit ideas. (If any students realize that the woman in the sculpture might be Rosa Parks and know her story, ask them to postpone applying their previous knowledge and to use only clues in the sculpture itself.)

  • Who are the people in the sculpture? (Identify them by roles or positions, not by name.)
  • Where are they?
  • What is happening?
  • Why is it happening?

Ask students what clues they used as a basis for their speculations. Discuss the handcuffs, gun and holster, badge, and American flag lapel pin. Point out, too, the figures’ skin color and the red, white, and blue of the woman’s clothing.

3. Ask students to identify the parts of the figures that are unusually large or small. Discuss the ways these exaggerations or distortions provide clues to the subject matter.

4. Show students the news photo of Rosa Parks and have them compare her appearance in the sculpture with her appearance in the news photo.