This mural by Rustam Qbic features three children riding a whale that glides through polluted water.
Qbic's mural is a part of a project to paint marine-focused, environmental murals in Napier, New Zealand.
Students can read the artist's statement, which explains that the mural should inspire viewers to think about how pollution and waste will impact future generations.
This mural captures the resilient and resourceful nature of children, while also showing the stark reality of the polluted, garbage-ridden world that future generations will inherit if people refuse to make bold environmental changes.
Students can view a series of photographs that show the artist working on the mural to learn more about his process.
Teachers with younger students may need to explain that the dark patches in the water are oil.
English language arts or creative writing classes could use this mural as a writing prompt. Students could write a short story or poem about the figures depicted in the artwork.
Art classes could discuss the symbolism in the mural. Teachers could encourage students to think about how the whale, the crown, and the cardboard house might convey messages about sustainability and environmental health.
Other resources on this topic include this video about the danger of plastic pollution in the ocean, this Khan Academy video on how humans impact aquatic environments, and this video on solid waste disposal.
The artwork shows the present un-balanced and egocentric nature of environmental degradation by humans. This is a call to take action to achieve our sustainable development goals. The resource is recommended for teaching.
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
4-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and that their uses affect the environment.
National Core Arts Standards
Visual Arts: Standard 7 - Perceive and analyze artistic work.
VA:Re7.1.6a Identify and interpret works of art or design that reveal how people live around the world and what they value
VA:Re7.1.7a Explain how the method of display, the location, and the experience of an artwork influence how it is perceived and valued.
VA:Re7.1.Ia Hypothesize ways in which art influences perception and understanding of human experiences.
VA:Re7.2.IIa Evaluate the effectiveness of an image or images to influence ideas, feelings, and behaviors of specific audiences.
VA:Re7.2.4a Analyze components in visual imagery that convey messages.
Visual Arts: Standard 8 - Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.
VA:Re8.1.6a Interpret art by distinguishing between relevant and non-relevant contextual information and analyzing subject matter, characteristics of form and structure, and use of media to identify ideas and mood conveyed.