Understanding Implicit Bias Through Photography – Teaching Tolerance Magazine



Students examine portraits taken by photographer Wing Young Huie and discuss their assumptions about the subjects in the photos. They then explore the concept of implicit bias and create a photography project about implicit bias as it relates to their own identities.

Level: School 

Grade Level: 7-12

Location: Rural Northeast Minnesota


  • Provide a safe environment for students to explore their own implicit biases and to take steps to become more understanding of others
  • Use photographs as a tool to explore identity and bias 
  • Use art and writing to explore implicit bias 

Grantee Reflection

“Students need to be able to talk about difficult things going on in their lives and communities with someone who cares about them. Providing the opportunity to share takes effort. We all need to listen.”


Interested? Here’s how you can do this project in your classroom.

Moccasin Art Residency

South Ridge Sculpture students worked with Fond du Lac artists Karen Savage-Blue and Wendy Savage creating moccasins. Students learned to applique bead for their toe pieces as well as fit and sew their moccasins. It was lots of work but well worth it. South Ridge School Art Dept is sponsoring a “Rock Your Mocs” on the last day of third quarter. Everyone is encouraged to wear their moccasins in school. “Rock Your Mocs” is a national event begun in November 2011 (Native American History month). The creator loved wearing her moccasins. She saw the event as a way to unite and encourage Native Americans across the country. miigwech to South Ridge JOM parents and Essentia Health, Duluth for their generous support.


The phrase “The Good Road” is a term used by many different Native American tribal communities to represent “one who is walking the road of balance”. Gaining knowledge to part of this journey. The two figures in the painting are adding positive forces onto the path. The hope is that we all walk this path together and contribute to building a strong environment for all people and every living thing on earth. 
bimaadiziwin – healthy and balanced life

This mural by Karen Savage-Blue was completed Summer 2018. The image supports the good and healthy life found through traditional ways . It is in the American Indian Student Services room and will encourage students each day gently reminding each one of their personal choices and strength found through traditional ways. 
The mural was generously paid for through a grant from the Fond du Lac Reservation – Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP).

Wendy Savage and Karen Savage-Blue Teach Ojibwe Pucker-toe Moccasin Making to HS Sculpture Class – Artist Residency

Great Lake Indian Fish and Wildlife

Artists, Wendy Savage and Karen Savage-Blue are Fond du Lac band members, sisters and gifted artists who have grown up in the Duluth/Cloquet area. They have worked as artists and teachers all of their lives and are now coming to work with South Ridge HS Sculpture students as they teach each of us how make a traditionally fitted pair of Ojibwe pucker-toe moccasins. 

Throughout the month of December students are to complete the applique beaded design on their toe pieces (black velvet). Beginning in January patterns will be made by the Savage sisters to fit each student’s foot (basesd on a foot tracing) and then each student will be taught how to hand sew their own pair of moccasins (Elk hide) using a Glover needle and imitation sinew. 

It is an exceptional opportunity for South Ridge students to work with these talented artists. This skill will be used throughout their life as they sew moccasins for family and friends.

This project was generously supported by the ISD 2142 American Indian Student Services JOM Parent Committee and Essentia Health, Duluth. miigwetch

Artist Residency with Wing Young Huie

Wing Young Huie spent a full week with South Ridge School 7-12th grade art students learning to identify and discuss implicit bias through photography. Below see Chalk Talk images.


How Do Photographs Form Us?
Wing’s dynamic slide show lecture confronts many divisive social issues, such as cultural bias, immigration, religion, and social disconnection. While sharing anecdotes and insights into his creative process—and his abilities to intimately interact with thousands of strangers—he also discusses the personal and professional challenges in his 35-year journey of becoming a accomplished artist.

What Do You See? Through a Zine published by Mr. Huie, students participate in a discussion of their impressions, bias and ideas concerning what they see in the photograph image. These discussion are able to be translated into real life interactions between stranger, friends and family.

A “Chalk Talk” workshop is where participants engage each other with by asking a series of open-ended questions. Working in pairs each student then chooses only one of the answers from each person, which that person writes on a chalkboard. How would you answer these questions?

What are you?
How do you think others see you? What don’t they see?
What advice would you give to a stranger?
What is your favorite word?
Describe an incident that changed you.
How have you been affected by race?
Workshop participants pair with someone in the room they are unfamiliar with, ask each other these questions, choose each others’ answer, and and then write that answer down on black construction paper with white chalk. (Option: participants can then photograph each other with their chalkboards.) This intimate and non-confrontational interaction addresses issues of bias, challenging preconceptions of the other and one’s self.

Contrasting points of views are engaged when Wing presents his photographs that are open to interpretation and asks participants, “What do you see?” He then facilitates a dialogue before revealing the stories behind the photographs that furthers the complexities of cultural and personal perceptions, creating a challenging yet safe environment for deep discussion.

How are we impacted by the daily consumption of countless images created by marketing forces, the media, and popular entertainment? How can we differentiate our authentic selves from idealized realities? Do we become what we see? In other words: How do photographs form us?

Shifting Identities  How do you present yourself in different setting? with different people?

Culture  What is your culture? What makes your life unique to your family, land, community?


McKnight Names Wing Young Huie as Distinguished Artist 2018   “With his powerful photography and compelling public art projects, Wing Young Huie has been documenting Minnesota’s changing cultural landscape for more than 30 years in images that ask us to focus on people and places that are often overlooked,” says Kate Wolford, president of McKnight. “Whether he’s talking to a class of college students or turning entire city blocks into a public gallery space, Wing has a rare gift for challenging assumptions and inviting conversation through his unique artistic vision. We couldn’t be more delighted by the selection committee’s decision to honor a photographer who really has transformed our image of what being Minnesotan means.”

This opportunity made possible through the generous donations of the Northland Foundations and Teaching Tolerance/Southern Poverty Law. Check out Teaching Tolerance website for more information


211 Conversations

South Ridge High School Printmaking and Painting students create collages for 122 Conversations which will culminate in 2018 at the Tweed Museum of Art – University of Minnesota in Duluth, MN. The final display will include the contributions of exhibition visitors in the five sister cities. The participatory element is an important part of the project, for it enables citizens to “validate” Labovitz’s impressions of their community as represented in the exhibited paintings. Individuals are invited to their own images and paper in an act of sharing and create an image or message. The individual collages will be collected into a book for each community, forming a community art piece. These books, along with the traveling exhibition bags, will be archived at the Tweed Museum.

  • October 6, 2018 | 1-3 pm | Family Day
  • October 14, 2018 |1-3:30 pm | Art Teachers Workshop & Reception
  • October 25, 2018 | 6 – 8:30 pm | 122 Conversations: Person to Person, Art Beyond Borders Public Opening Reception, (special guests, Anne Labovitz, Mayor Emily Larson, DSCI delegate, Koresh Lakhan) The UMD MAAD LAB will offer Live Streaming with some sister cities!
  • November 10, 2018 | 1:30 – 2:30 | Gallery talk with Anne Labovitz



South Ridge art students are also participating. Create a visual representation of what peace in your community looks like. Using a 10″ square and materials provided create a work of art to be submitted to the 122 conversations exhibition. Collages will also be used to develop compositions for a self-portrait etching and painting in class.


122 Conversations


122 Conversations