Students acquaint themselves with the way artwork of early Native Americans
incorporated aspects of their environment and everyday experiences, and
students apply those principles
in their own creative efforts.
WHAT YOU NEED
- Reference materials with pictures of early Native American art from different regions,
including your own
- Magazines, museum catalogues, and so forth, with artwork, artifacts, clothing, accessories, and
home furnishings, based on traditional motifs
- Drawing materials
WHAT TO DO
- Ask groups of students to study pictures of early Native American art and discuss
among themselves what they see in them. Stimulate discussion by having them
consider the following ideas:
- How the figures, patterns, and colors reflect what these early artisans saw
around them (for example: natural surroundings, such as deserts, hills, rivers,
or forests; animals; plants; hunting, fishing; work; social events).
- A comparison of the pottery and other artwork of a people who lived in
different regions (for example: desert compared to forest or seaside).
- A comparison of the kinds of materials used by different groups (for example:
seashells, grasses, leather, wood).
- Have the groups discuss among themselves what figures, patterns, and colors
from their own region they might include in designing modern-day art or crafts.
- Have students work individually to apply their ideas to a design of their
own. They might design a fabric pattern, an article of clothing (such as
T-shirt, tie, scarf), jewelry (tie clips, earrings, rings), or home
furnishings (such as chairs, rugs, vases). To stimulate their ideas, students
can begin by looking through magazines and catalogues of Native American work.
- Display student work and invite other classes to view it. Or have students
bind their sketches into a catalog, give it a suitable title, share it with
As part of the display, ask student designers to include a sketch or photo of
the place, activity, or plant or animal that inspired their work. They might also include the
same information in accompanying text.
Invite a local craftsperson, artist, or artisan to view the exhibit and to
share the inspirations for her or his own work.
You may be able, with the cooperation of the school's art specialist, to have
students carry through with their designs by creating the actual items.
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