The Message Behind the Art

In the video below, Patricia David explains her primary sources of inspiration: environmentalism, the socio-political lives of women, and children’s drawings. Many artists use their art to express their feelings about subjects that matter to them. These artworks serve to critique the real world, to express an opinion, or to celebrate something that the artist finds meaningful. Through discussion with your classmates, you’ll have the opportunity to reflect on the possible activist uses of art.

Grade 7-9

Duration : 30 minutes

  • Analysis

  • Discussion

  • Reflection


Learn how art can be used to tell stories and convey messages.


Watch ”Patricia David  – Démarche artistique” (English subtitles)

As a class, discuss each of the artworks using the reflection questions as starting points.


Pencils and paper, if needed.

Discuss the following artworks :


Artwork: Stained glass by Patricia David. The artist reproduced a child’s drawing using glass.

Reflection questions:

  • In your opinion, what messages might this artwork convey?
  • Is reworking an existing piece of art a form of plagiarism, or is it a valid source of inspiration?
  • Can you think of other artists who rework existing pieces of art?


Artwork: Poster made by the École de la Montagne Rouge collective. Made during the student protests in 2012.


Reflection questions:

  • In your opinion, what messages might this artwork convey?
  • What’s the significance of the motifs you see on this poster?
  • What’s the significance of the poster’s play on words?
  • Think about the role that the colour red played in the student movement of 2012. What was its purpose? How was it used?



Artwork: Ovoïde is a piece by Montserrat Duran Muntadas. This work is part of a series composed of over one hundred pieces. The artist works with blown glass and textile. At the age of thirteen, doctors found an anomaly in Muntadas that meant she would be unable to have biological children. The themes of infertility and anomalies therefore play a big role in her artworks.


Reflection questions:

  • In your opinion, what messages might this artwork convey?
  • What are some of the advantages of dealing with medical diagnoses through art?
  • The artist often explores the societal pressure that is placed on cisgender women to become mothers. Do you agree with her? Do you think this pressure still exists?

Photo credits: René Rioux

Food for Thought

All social movements have their own symbols. These symbols can be used both by activists on the ground and by artists in their creations. In your opinion, why do we create and use these visual symbols? What purpose do they serve in activism?