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

8th Grade Trip to Cities

IMG_28428th Grade students, High School Mentors, a teacher’s Aide and Ms. O traveled to the Cities in early January. We started the day out at the Ordway Theater, St. Paul where we listened (and danced!!) to the Cambodian Surf Rock band “Dengue Fever”. They are out of Los Angeles, Ca and travel the world playing their fun dance music. It was a completely new sound for most and the students loved it! They enjoyed seeing the instrument they play in Band on stage in a band! The Ordway main floor was full of students from throughout the state (primarily Twin Cities).

For lunch the cooks at school prepared a pic-nic bag lunch that we ate on or way the visit Wing Young Huie’s gallery “The Third Place”. Mr. Huie, born and raised in Duluth, studied journalism at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He found photography on his own and has created a vibrant  life with it. He is well known around the world for his narrative photographs – documenting daily life – creating conversations about identity, opportunity and community. We incorporate his work in our curriculum at South Ridge, in particular the “Chalk Talk”. This is an activity where two people who don’t know each other well ask open ended questions in an effort to get to know and understand each other better.There are eight questions such as: What are you?,What advise would you give to a stranger? How has race affected you?; and Describe an incident that changed you. Students talk with each other and then together they choose one answer that is most significant for each of them and write the statement on a chalk board. Then, they photograph each other holding the statement. It is an amazing experience.
Mr. Huie talked with the students about the current collection of photographs which ask the question, “How do photographs form us?” A well rounded discussion ensued about how what we see determined what we think is true (or not true). As young people the culture is often visually spelled out to us – so our understanding of visual literacy is very important. His encouragement to them as they work towards their personal goals was to “talk with someone you don’t know”. Reach past your circle of friends to others and understand them. It was great to see the students open up to him and respond.
Our last stop was the Minneapolis Institute of Art. As you know this is one of the most amazing museums in the country. Our students saw 500 A.C. Greek sculpture as well as modern painting. Over 75% had never been in a museum and were thrilled. That day there were a lot of folks, other than from our group, visiting the museum as well which was cool for students to see. Young and old were looking, quietly talking and many sketching (as we were) the artwork. They fit in beautifully and were wonderful touring the museum galleries. To see, for example, an original Monet, Chuck Close, and Frank Lloyd Wright within one hour was great. Many hope to return with more time.
Our dinner, before heading back home was at Pizza Luce’, downtown Minneapolis. About 20 pizza’s and all the pop you can drink went without questions. They enjoyed talking about the day and being together in a “cool” place. The staff treated them with fake tattoo’s and life was good.
This trip (and others like it ) was made possible through the generous contributions  of CC Riders, Lake Country Power, #29 Rotary and parents/teachers of South Ridge school. Your contribution gave these young people a great memory and life experience. Everywhere we went the staff and performers reached out to the students in meaningful ways – and our students became a part of an exciting cultural life. Thank you again for your support!