In the arts we understand culture to be the elements that add beauty and enjoyment to our lives. All the painters, sculptors and other artists from the past and present have given culture to all of us. Most students’ artistic culture has been influenced by many sources around them including their own communities.
I was educated in the New Haven Public School system and I currently teach Art in a multicultural Middle School, where cultural differences are present and are voiced strong. Until recently, I did not realize, that in the community where I teach, cultural difference is a major part of students’ everyday existence. When students begin to learn about culture in the classroom, it can unfortunately cause conflict. This conflict can be a result of how a student may culturally dress, or how they may speak.
I am a believer that the arts provide one of the vital components in the education of students. The learning about cultural differences in the classroom can be done with an artistic flair. This aspect of learning can also be a great educational experience if students are unaware of the various contributions made by their culture.
The purpose of this unit is to expose students to art from certain parts of the world, which are pertinent to their own ethnic background. The intent is to teach students that in order to understand their own culture, they must learn about persons who influenced it. By presenting this curriculum, I hope to increase their knowledge of what art really is, along with exposing them to cultural differences. I also hope that learning about cultural differences through the media of arts and crafts can help students understand and respect each other for their ethnic differences.
My main focus in this unit will be, first the arts of Africa, and how they reflect Afro American culture. Also, how their arts are in integral part of their everyday life. The idea is that much of African art was developed from religious influences and many abstract symbols. Second, I will focus on the Arts of Mexico, and how their form of art is very unique to particular villages. I will also discuss the arts that preceded the Spanish Conquest, and how these works of art have lost their original purpose. Third, I will explore the arts of the Caribbean Islands. Through this focus I hope to show the arts of the Caribbean have many difference characteristics of many ethnic cultures. These ethnic cultures include Latino, Asian and African American.
This curriculum unit will be designed for art students in seventh and eighth grade who meet approximately three times a week. It can also be adapted to grade seven and eighth Bilingual and Special education programs. This unit will cover an eight to ten week time period.
The main objectives and strategies of this unit are:
1.To familiarize students with artistic aspects of their culture.
2.To compare ethnic cultures through arts and crafts.
3.To inspire students to produce quality works of art from the knowledge that they have gained.
4.Help students develop the vocabulary required to verbalize or write from various perspectives of art.
This curriculum unit will be divided into three sections:
Section I—A brief look at some of the textiles of Africa and how African influences have contributed to the work of art.
Section II—A brief look at Mexico, and their development of various arts and crafts preceding the Spanish Conquest.
Section III—A look at the Caribbean arts and how their characteristics are found in other ethnic backgrounds.