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Photo by Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

Database Provider


Mandy van Leeuwen


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Visual and Performing Arts

Resource Type

  • Artwork

Regional Focus

North America, Polar Regions


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  • This mural by Mandy van Leeuwen uses "footprint" both metaphorically and literally by showing various pairs of human shoes as well as polar bear tracks going into the distance.
  • Her artist statement for this mural opens a discussion about the importance of solidarity, as humans take responsible action for the preservation of our home.
Teaching Tips


  • Students bring their own ideas and interpretations to the artwork that add to the artist's intention.
  • This mural focuses on the idea that even though people have cultural differences, represented by the various types of shoes, in the end we're all people and share the common goal of survival. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • Exploring the map that is included on the webpage will prompt students to connect to the visual metaphor the artist uses of people standing on the edge of wilderness in Churchill, Canada.


  • The metaphor of humans standing at the edge of wilderness that bears live in is worth exploration for science classes when discussing habitat loss.
  • A discussion about putting aside differences in the interest of the preservation of our collective habitat is an easy subject to launch into for social studies classes.
  • The artist's choice of the sun on the horizon can be interpreted as the dawn of a new human movement, the setting of an era when humans flourish, or simply marking the time of year when the sun crosses the horizon and the bears take to the ice.
  • Other resources related to these topics include this mural about marine animals' anger towards human's impact on the environment and this lesson about polar climates.
Scientist Notes
The art piece presents a connection between humans and nature and highlights the importance to conserve biodiversity and wildlife. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Arts
    • Visual Arts: Standard 7 - Perceive and analyze artistic work.
      • VA.7.RE1.5 3. Identify and analyze cultural associations suggested by visual imagery.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 8 - Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.
      • VA.8.RE2.4 1. Interpret art by referring to contextual information and analyzing relevant subject matter, formal art elements, and use of media.
      • VA.8.RE2.5 1. Interpret art by analyzing the composition, contextual information, subject matter, formal art elements, and use of media to identify ideas and mood conveyed.
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