This leads me to the art component of this unit. As already stated, the art component is an integral part of the unit and is presented several ways, whether to introduce the literature, to view parallel to the literature, or to view separately as another way of studying the Hispanic and Latina American cultures. This unit is interdisciplinary in that it will be taught with the art teacher, Mrs. Val Jean Belton. For examples, the students will view the art, go to museums suchas the MET or El Museo del Barrio, and paint original works that illustrate various themes and metaphors. The art forms, including visual arts, sculpture,and film, will be studied in order to deepen the students´appeciation of the richness of Spanish and Latin American cultures and in order to better understand the themes of race and ethnicity.
The three artists that I will use as a point of departure are Fernando Botero, Wifredo Lam, and Rufino Tamayo. The paintings to introduce these three artists are
La Familia Presidencial
, by Fernando Botero,
by Wifredo Lam, and
El jaguar y la serpiente
, by Rufino Tamayo. Fernando Botero is a sculptor as well as a visual artist, and his sculpture will be viewed as well.These three paintings may be found in the textbook
Pasaporte al Mundo 21
, on page 17. Further information on this text is included in the bibliography to this unit. (7) The three paintings are also shown in the video accompanying the textbook and are an excerpt from the fifth video of the five volume video series entitled
, by Carlos Fuentes. The textbook includes questions to discuss before viewing, as well as comprehension questions after the viewing.
The reasons I chose these three paintings, besides being readily available in both text and video formats, are that they introduce the themes of racial and ethnic identitites in Latin America, they reflect the ethnic heritage and cultural reality of Colombia, Cuba, and Mexico, and they have stimulated wonderful student discussions with my students as art per se. Each painting embraces a relevant theme in Latin America.
La Familia Presidencial
depicts extremely fat people who are archetypes found in Latin America: the family, the priest, and the military man.
depicts three figures of African origin.
El jaguar y la serpiente
is rooted in the indigenous cultures of Mexico by its use of animals that have a strong symbolic value for the native Mexicans. After viewing the three paintings and discussing their connection to the three cultures, students are encouraged to research the three artists and bring to class further examples of their art.
The art component includes, besides these three introductory artists, the following artists: Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, from Spain, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, from Mexico. To a lesser degree, Diego Velázquez, from Spain, Antonio Martorell, from Puerto Rico, are also part of this unit. Works of art of the Mexican artists, Antonio Ruiz, and the Puerto Rican artist, Edda W. Santiago, are also briefly noted. Some of these are included in the textbook
but teachers are encouraged to go to art books, museums, and even the Internet for selected art pieces of these artists. The sole example of Antonio Ruiz, entitled
, is a cover for a book of poems by Federico García Lorca, and the drawings of Edda W. Santiago are taken from a 1993 calendar entitled
Yo Soy Boricua
, dedicated to Puerto Rican women. I have also used a poster for 1999 Hispanic Heritage Month, which depicts three women of different races, wrapped in all the flags of Spanish-speaking countries. The chart in this unit suggests one way that these pieces of art may be connected to the literature component, but teachers are free to use them in a different sequence or to make substitutions. The art component is not intended to be the central part of this unit, but is rather intended to highlight, explore, and at times dissent from, the literature, which is the main component. Students, however, seem to delight in the art discussions because they are more direct and less complicated than reading a novel or even a short story, and the themes to be subsequently elaborated in the literature may be more easily discussed when viewing the art.
In the seminar by Professor Bryan Wolf, we learned techniques for examining not only mainstream artists, but also artists of color who have developed a dialogue with the mainstream traditions. Professor Wolf elicited lively discussions by carefully presenting questions to the class about the art itself, the intent of the artist, and how the particular work grappled with issues of gender, race, and ethnicity. These insights and strategies were helpful to me as a teacher of Spanish and I intend to use them in my classroom and in this unit.