Helen Sebidi: South African Art (focus on cultural heritage/pre-colonialism) Pointillism assignment

Developer’s Name:

Sherilyn Lehn, M.Ed., B.Ed., B.F.A., OCT


Grades 9 – 12

75 Minute Lesson Description – Overview of Lesson:

This Art lesson, for grade 9 – 12. While a visual arts focus, students will be introduced to Nelson Mandela and his struggle to end Apartheid. Teachers will be encouraged to apply South African Ubuntu Epistemology: Activate, Reflect, Connect, and Communicate.

They will be encouraged to reflect and make connections to the Struggle for the people of South Africa to maintain their cultural heritage in the face of colonialism and Apartheid.  Students will connect the efforts of Helen Sebidi with that of Mandela’s struggle by focusing on connecting and communicating social, cultural, and community based contexts of power and resistance for freedom through images. The art historical aspect of studying Helen Sebidi will explore traditional heritage and culture of South Africa which she communicates through her artwork. Specifically, students shall identify and investigate signs & symbols of pre-colonialism through her work. Students identify and describe some of the ways in which visual art forms and styles reflect the beliefs and traditions of the culture and society of South Africa during the time of Nelson Mandela and the nation’s struggle to end Apartheid. In art making, students will practice grid method of enlarging an image. Then as a painting project, students will learn and apply pointillism techniques.

Lesson Objectives:

  • Become aware of Nelson Mandela and the struggle to end Apartheid
  • Learn about Helen Sebidi as a South African Artist and her work to maintain and revive South African culture and heritage
  • Critically view works of art based on traditional culture and heritage
  • Apply learning to make connections of Human Rights issues to social, cultural and community contexts
  • Technically: use grid method to enlarge an image
  • Technically: learn about pointillism and practice the methods in art-making

Relevant Ontario Curriculum:

  • Visual Arts
  • History
  • English

Relevant Ontario Curriculum Documents

Human Rights Instruments:

The Convention on the Rights of the Child

  • Article 1 – All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
  • Article 2 – Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
  • Article 27
    • 1.  Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
    • 2.  Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author


  • Teacher: computer or tablet
  • Students: computer or tablet


Lesson Plan Details by Stages of African Epistemology:



Activate and Connect

Reflect and Communicate

Looking Ahead

Video Response for in class discussions:

I Am Woman Episode 1, Season 3 – Mmagkabo Helen Sebidi

  1. What are some ways that Helen responded to Apartheid?
  2. Describe the relationship between Heidi and Helen.
  3. What were some of the early lessons that Helen’s grandmother taught her?
  4. Who was Helen’s artist mentor?
  5. Describe Helen’s relationship with her grandmother.
  6. Describe how Helen captured the stories and people of her community.
  7. Describe Helen’s attitude about love.
  8. “Leap of Faith” is discussed throughout the whole video. Describe what is meant by this term.
  9. What were some of the criticisms or hurdles Helen had to overcome to become an artist?
  10. List 2 awards Helen received for her artwork.
  11. How does Helen see herself in the role of ‘artist’?
  12. Describe some of the differences between Christian colonial traditions and old pre-colonial ways.


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Mandela Global Human Rights: Peace, Reconciliation and Responsibility Copyright © by Dolana Mogadime (Ed.) Project Lead is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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