SchoolArts Magazine

FEB 2009

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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high School Studio lesson The Artof African Senufo Cloth Jane Dalton I n my high-school artroom, I use the arts as a tool to affirm diversity. The most visible levels of culture such as clothing, music, or food are often the easiest to explore, but I wanted students to explore the symbolic levels of culture such as the languages spoken, social roles, values, and beliefs. Values and beliefs can be abstract, but often this is the level at which individuals define themselves. For example, in much of Africa, the concept of "artist" or "art," as it is understood in Western cultures, is unknown. In Africa, the creation of handmade objects often fulfills a 28 February 2009 SchoolArts functional purpose. I ask students to consider why, in Western culture, we have a separate term for creative projects and why we have museums to house artwork. believed to have special powers to protect the wearer and bring good luck. Today the cloth is no longer used for clothing; instead, the paintings are sold to tourists and specialty shops. the senufo People Students can connect to these One African culture I like to share ideas when they are asked about the with my students is the Senufo people different customs we have in the who live along the United States that northern border of are meant to proIn my high-school the Ivory Coast in artroom I use the arts as mote good luck. West Africa. They For example, do a tool to affirm diversity. students have a speare known for their hand-woven, handcial activity they do painted cloth, originally made into before a sporting event or exam time, dance or hunting clothing that is or do they carry something special to give them a sense of confidence?

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