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Spanish III Students Link Historical Events to Modern with Murals

Maria Miller, Matteo Tancredi, and  Maddy Draper compare the bombing of the city of  Guernica using the symbols of a bomb, fish, graves, American Presidents, using found materials from Google images searches and magazines pictures.  “What is the theme of your mural and in what way does your mural reflect that theme?” asks Oak Forest High School Spanish III teacher John Stevens, in Spanish.  Looking at each other nervously, Matteo Tancredi responds, also in Spanish.  “The theme is the destruction of war and how that affects people’s lives.  Red and orange symbolize the combs and the destructive event of that color scheme helped with the meaning of that.”


Early on in his teaching career at OFHS, Stevens realized that his Spanish III Honors students didn’t really understand anything about the Spanish Civil War.   In order to bring some clarity to this disturbing epoch in the Spanish cultural landscape, Oak Forest High School teacher John Stevens has the students create murals connecting the Spanish civil war to another social, cultural, or historical event in their lives or that they have studied in school .


The idea for a mural about the Spanish Civil War is not a new one.  The famous Spanish painter Pablo Picasso created the famous mural Guernica, based on the bombing of the town of of Guernica by the Nazis in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.  “I wanted the students to connect the Spanish Civil War to another event in their lives.  I wanted them to see that history sometimes repeats themselves.  I also wanted my students to stretch themselves by using abstract language in Spanish to describe their mural artwork.”


Oak Forest High School Sophomore Maddie Lewner said, “We made a mural comparing the American Civil War and the Spanish Civil War.”  They also included pop culture figures like Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato because it looks like they hate each other and also to represent modern day things.  Amanda Ashmore said, “The symbols are guns and death and the hunger for power.”  Tyler Henson said, “We compared the bombing of Hiroshima done by the Americans in World War II to the bombing done by Nazi warplanes on the city of Guernica of Spain.”  

Zack Anderson said, “Our purpose is saying that history repeats itself.  Our symbols were the flags and the decimation afterwards.”

Maddy Barthelt, Gina McKinney, and Kaily Fitzmaurice also compared those two events but on their mural they featured some of the human symbols of the war such as Paul Tibbets,  the man that actually dropped the bomb and Francisco Franco, the dictator of Spain.  Maddy Barthelt said, “The bombs represent the weapons used in the attack, people represent the terror that was felt and the helmets represent the people fighting for.”