Cain & Abel through art – 8th grade Bible class

In 8th grade Bible, students explore the characters, themes and issues raised by the stories in the Book of Genesis. One powerful story is that of Cain and Abel – a story which exemplifies issues of sibling rivalry, competition for “favorite” status, and the expression of anger and violence.
One 8th grade Bible class has explored these issues through an art project. Students were given the opportunity to step into the shoes of “Cain,” wrestling with the emotions he felt before he killed his brother, and reflecting on the emotions he may have felt after he killed his brother. Students could use lines, shapes, colors and symbols to contrast artistically the differences in Cain’s feelings and state of mind before and after the violent act, as part of Cain’s “art therapy” years after the incident. An artist statement accompanied the projects, through which students explained the choices they made in depicting emotions the way they did, all the while justifying their choices through connections to the biblical text.