Art Educators’ Lounge: Identity Mapping with Alisha Mernick

On Saturday, 4/24 we came together as a community to participate in an Identity Mapping workshop led by Alisha Mernick. Alisha is an Art Educator & Activist who has been implementing liberatory, critical arts pedagogy in K–12 classrooms for over a decade. In this 1-hour workshop, Alisha led us through an Identity Mapping exercise, which allowed us to deconstruct our identities and reflect on how those identities impact our relationship to art and art education. Additionally, we engaged in a rich conversation about how we can facilitate these same types of conversations with our students.

A key takeaway was that educators need to first begin doing “the work” both individually and within their classrooms before diving into a project like this. Reading (there are some fantastic suggestions below) and reflecting to unpack your own biases and then working to keep those reflections in mind is important to do before you can help students unpack their biases. Facilitating a safe space in your classroom for students to be vulnerable and create deeply personal artwork starts long before introducing this project. 

During our discussion, we shared resources centered around social justice and anti-racist teaching. 

Suggested Resources:




Additional Resources from Alisha’s shared Google Doc


Read: Anti-Racist/Anti-Bias Art Education & Critical Multiculturalism

Read: Pedagogy + Teaching


Inclusive Art Lessons + Artists: Websites featuring Contemporary + BIPOC Artists

A big topic that came up in our discussion, which we’ve also heard from several teachers via email and DM, was how to bring discussions around bias and social justice into classrooms where students, parents, and even admin do not support this work. Ideas/advice that was shared included:

  • Share the work and words of artists and ask a lot of questions rather than sharing your opinions
  • Facilitate space for students to share their opinions and experiences 
  • Seek out like-minded teachers and create cross-disciplinary projects so you are not alone in this work
  • Bring in school counselors if possible to connect supportively 1:1 with students as well as to back you up by sharing with parents and admin the research-backed need for such discussions 
  • Know where the line is between rocking the boat and being fired – check in with your admin before beginning a project/unit that may be seen as controversial with parents/students
  • Be willing to take a stand when needed. Language from parenting small children can be helpful: “My job is to keep all of my students safe, and speech or imagery attacking any student is never okay in my classroom.”

If you have additional advice or experience around ABAR teaching in an environment or community that is not supportive of critical multiculturalism, and are willing to share, please contact Rebecca to share your experience at