SchoolArts Magazine

FEB 2013

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Looking & Learning Consideration Pull-out Resource Artists ask us to carefully and deliberately consider the world around us. A rtists create work that visually and conceptually reflects their daily life, culture, and environment, provoking the viewer to stop and consider aspects of his or her world. Consideration is often defined as slow, deliberate thought or meditation. This definition perfectly captures the way artists' thoughts on a subject change and develop while they are engaged in art-making. While artists consider a nearly infinite number of topics and ideas in their work, many choose to focus on some aspect of culture. Considering Culture Some artists consider culture by passing down traditional art-making techniques from one generation to the next, preserving a way of seeing and depicting the world through art. Tourist Hanging with Quetzal Birds and Ducks represents a long tradition of Central and South American textile weaving. This piece was woven on a backstrap loom, a type of loom used since ancient times. The quetzal is a beautiful, colorful bird native to the tropical regions of Central America. It has been a traditional artistic motif since ancient times. Indeed, the bright colors of this weaving reflect the vibrant colors of the native bird. Other artists consider culture by examining history. In his installation, Abraham—L'ami de Dieu (Abraham—Friend of God), Georges Adéagbo provokes consideration of the concept of sacrifice and freedom by weaving together visual and textual stories. At first it might seem like a haphazard arrangement, but this installation, which takes up an entire gallery at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was meticulously arranged to create the element of flowing space and to link together the history of slavery in the United States with a biblical story and the French colonial experience in Africa. Borrowing from African altar design, tourist art, contemporary installation art, and African storytelling, the artist carefully selected and arranged the items for Abraham— L'ami de Dieu, combining texts, images, discarded objects, and Philadelphia Museum of Art pamphlets. About the Artists/Artworks Mayan People, Guatemala The Mayan culture can be traced back as far as 1500 BCE, and, at its height, extended from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize, then North to the Yucatan and as far west as Tabasco and Chiapas in Mexico. The culture was subdivided into numerous city-states. Some of the major Mayan cities in Guatemala were Kaminaljuyú, Tikal, Monte Alto, and El Baúl. Like many cities throughout the Mayan territory, many of them were abandoned during the Post-Classic period (ca. 900 CE–ca. 1500 CE). In many ancient Mesoamerican cultures, textiles were second in value only to gold. They represent among the highest achievements of ancient Central and South American cultures. Not only were bodies wrapped in beautiful textiles for burial and worn as everyday garments, they were also used for ritual purposes, to mark stages of life, represent social status, or indicate region. This is still a lively tradition for Mayan families in the twenty-first century. Mayan People, Guatemala, Tourist Hanging with Quetzal Birds and Ducks, 1970s. Cotton; height: 47¼" (120 cm). Private Collection. © Davis Art Images. Georges Adéagbo (b. 1942) Georges Adéagbo grew up in Benin, West Africa. He studied law in Abidjan and in France, where he planned to settle and marry, but when his father died in 1971, he returned to Benin to take care of his family. There he remained jobless and suffered from profound loneliness and alienation. To relieve his depression, Adéagbo traveled to a nearby lagoon every day and gathered objects and materials he encountered during his walk. Upon his return from these solitary walks, Adéagbo arranged the fragments of this "recovered" history in a precise order on the floor. In the early 1990s, after a chance meeting with an art critic, Adéagbo began to show his "installations" outside the yard of his home, first in Europe, then in countries all over the world. Since then, he has participated in more than fifteen exhibitions and gallery shows, including the Palais of the United Nations, Geneva; The Serpentine Gallery, London; the Round Tower, Copenhagen; and the Second Johannesburg the 24th São Paolo and 48th Venice Bienniales. schoolartsonline.com 23

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