History and Memory Lesson 7: Interpretation

Interpret through Writing or Visual Art
Student Silkscreen Print

By combining the knowledge they’ve gained through History and Memory Lessons one through six, students act as historians to interpret JFK’s legacy using a variety of research skills to write a critical essay interpreting what Americans do and should remember about JFK. They then act as artists to visually interpret JFK’s impact on American society.

Suggested Time Frame:

Class Discussion: 15 minutes
Final Essay: Homework
Final Art Project: 3-5 class periods

Total Time: 1 week 


  • Students will recall historical events
  • Students will form opinions about historical events and their impact on current culture
  • Students will create artworks representing interpretations of historical events using source imagery
  • Students will respond intuitively to works of art
  • Students will present and critique interpretations
  • Students will compare and contrast images as they relate to historical events
Studio Project in Reaction to the Assasination of JFK
Studio Project in Reaction to the Assasination of JFK

Interpret as a Historian:

Interpreting as a historian means using all of the information students have researched and gathered in this unit to answer the questions:

  • What is essential to remember about John F. Kennedy and the assassination?
  • What can be forgotten?
  • What is the image of JFK bequeathed to posterity? How is this image the same or different from the “essential” information of history?
  • Ask the students their opinions about the impact of Kennedy’s presidency and assassination on present-day political situations and current events. Points of View can be used to aid in this discussion 

Final Student Essay: Based upon the research, interviews with older generations, gathered facts, images, theories, and class discussion, each student should write an essay that conveys his or her own interpretation of what Americans do and should remember about John F. Kennedy, his assassination, and his legacy.

Studio project in reaction to the Assasination of JFK
Studio project in reaction to the Assasination of JFK

Interpret as an Artist:

Students should use the collected class images to create an artwork representing their own interpretation of Kennedy’s presidency, the assassination, and/or legacy. Students should present their artworks to the class. Encourage classmates to respond intuitively to each artwork before the artist discusses his or her intentions.

Possible projects:

Image Collage: Students chose two to five source images to make a collage. Source materials can be copied using a copy machine. Students should crop their sources and make decisions concerning repetition and scale (documents can be enlarged or reduced using the copy machine). Color may be added using opaque water based paint (acrylic or gouache) and colored pencils. If computer technology is available students may use Photoshop to manipulate images for this project.

Silkscreen Print: As a class, students choose four to six images to transfer onto silkscreens. Students create prints using just a few or all of the images, keeping in mind color choices, repetition of images, and scale.

Painting Using a Projector: Students choose two to four source images to use in their painting. They transfer these images to the painting surface using an overhead or opaque projector. Students should make decisions concerning color, repetition of images, and scale.


Warhol Education Rubrics

Click the Warhol Rubric headers below to reveal associated rubrics to which this lesson applies.

Critical Thinking
Creative Process
Historical Context