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Respectfully Teaching the Visual Arts of the Haudenosaunee. Native Americans of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora Nations. Kathie Maniaci Syracuse University. The Haudenosaunee. (pronounced HO-dee-no-SHOW-nee) . Current Haudenosaunee

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Respectfully teaching the visual arts of the haudenosaunee
Respectfully Teaching the Visual Arts of the Haudenosaunee

  • Native Americans of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora Nations

Kathie Maniaci

Syracuse University


The Haudenosaunee

(pronounced HO-dee-no-SHOW-nee)

Current Haudenosaunee

territories can be found in New York State, Oklahoma, (Seneca & Cayuga) Wisconsin, (Oneida) and Canada. (Mohawk & Oneida)


“In some ways the Haudenosaunee of the past defined themselves through art-the art of storytelling, the art of dance, the performance of a ritual, the sacred speeches, and the creation of clothing, tools, utensils, and wampum belts – all of which produced a set of commonly understood cultural metaphors. It was through these metaphors and symbols that meaning was communicated across the generations.”

Richard Hill, Tuscarora Artist and Educator


But here s the question
But here’s the question... themselves through art-the art of storytelling, the art of dance, the performance of a ritual, the sacred speeches, and the creation of clothing, tools, utensils, and wampum belts – all of which produced a set of commonly understood cultural metaphors. It was through these metaphors and symbols that meaning was communicated across the generations.”

If I am not Haudenosaunee, how can I

teach about their visual arts?


Explicit Cultural Components themselves through art-the art of storytelling, the art of dance, the performance of a ritual, the sacred speeches, and the creation of clothing, tools, utensils, and wampum belts – all of which produced a set of commonly understood cultural metaphors. It was through these metaphors and symbols that meaning was communicated across the generations.”:

Observable Patterns

Implicit Cultural Components:

Unspoken and Non-Obvious

Assumptions and Behavior


But here s a bigger question
But here’s a BIGGER themselves through art-the art of storytelling, the art of dance, the performance of a ritual, the sacred speeches, and the creation of clothing, tools, utensils, and wampum belts – all of which produced a set of commonly understood cultural metaphors. It was through these metaphors and symbols that meaning was communicated across the generations.” question:

How can I be sure as an art educator

that I am presenting cultural information

respectfully with both implicit and explicit knowledge intact?


themselves through art-the art of storytelling, the art of dance, the performance of a ritual, the sacred speeches, and the creation of clothing, tools, utensils, and wampum belts – all of which produced a set of commonly understood cultural metaphors. It was through these metaphors and symbols that meaning was communicated across the generations.”A lot of Iroquoian art is narrative, the traditional and the contemporary. There are three categories; the traditional crafts that became art, tradition-based artwork but contemporary contents, and the contemporary art.”

Onondaga-Seneca Artist Peter Jones


Traditional Haudenosaunee Crafts themselves through art-the art of storytelling, the art of dance, the performance of a ritual, the sacred speeches, and the creation of clothing, tools, utensils, and wampum belts – all of which produced a set of commonly understood cultural metaphors. It was through these metaphors and symbols that meaning was communicated across the generations.”


Appropriate imagery
Appropriate Imagery themselves through art-the art of storytelling, the art of dance, the performance of a ritual, the sacred speeches, and the creation of clothing, tools, utensils, and wampum belts – all of which produced a set of commonly understood cultural metaphors. It was through these metaphors and symbols that meaning was communicated across the generations.”

Clan Animals: Bear,

Turtle, Deer, Wolf,

Hawk, Heron,

Snipe, Beaver,Eel.

Turtle Island

The Three Sisters:

Corn, Beans & Squash


Inappropriate imagery
Inappropriate Imagery themselves through art-the art of storytelling, the art of dance, the performance of a ritual, the sacred speeches, and the creation of clothing, tools, utensils, and wampum belts – all of which produced a set of commonly understood cultural metaphors. It was through these metaphors and symbols that meaning was communicated across the generations.”

“All wooden and corn husks masks of the Haudenosaunee are sacred regardless of size or age. By their very nature masks are empowered the moment they are made. The image of the mask is sacred and is only to be used for its intended purpose. Masks do not have to be put through any ceremony or have tobacco attached to them in order to become useful or powerful. Masks should not be made unless they are to be used by members of the medicine society according to established tradition.”

(Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee, 1995, p. 1)


Contemporary Haudenosaunee Art themselves through art-the art of storytelling, the art of dance, the performance of a ritual, the sacred speeches, and the creation of clothing, tools, utensils, and wampum belts – all of which produced a set of commonly understood cultural metaphors. It was through these metaphors and symbols that meaning was communicated across the generations.”


Assumptions of a culture based curriculum
Assumptions of a themselves through art-the art of storytelling, the art of dance, the performance of a ritual, the sacred speeches, and the creation of clothing, tools, utensils, and wampum belts – all of which produced a set of commonly understood cultural metaphors. It was through these metaphors and symbols that meaning was communicated across the generations.”Culture-Based Curriculum

  • All cultures have value.

  • All cultures have a world view that

  • structures their values & society.

  • All cultures have an indigenous

  • knowledge base.

  • All cultures are dynamic.


From the book, “Iroquois Corn In a Culture-Based Curriculum: A Framework for Respectfully Teaching About Cultures,” by Carol Cornelius, 1999.


Guidelines for Art Educators Curriculum: A Framework for Respectfully Teaching About Cultures,” by Carol Cornelius, 1999.

  • Talk about the living culture as well as the ancient culture.

  • Consult the members of the culture, elders, artists, nation teachers and art educators to learn what is appropriate.

  • Err on the side of caution, avoid sacred imagery.

  • When viewing contemporary art by Haudenosaunee artists, it is best to approach the lesson as looking at a an individual artist within their cultural context, rather than as being representative of Haudenosaunee art.

  • Ask your students what they find exciting in this artwork...how is the work relevant to them? Encourage students to find connections to the themes in their own lives.

  • Avoid projects replicating the “style” of cultural art, let students find their own inspiration and connection to the artwork.


“Art can be a preserver of social patterns as well as a teacher of cultural understanding. Art can provide a structure for encountering the reality of diverse cultures through the senses, and can also offer the opportunity to experience that reality through the sixth sense “insight.” Thus, a multicultural approach in art education can serve to broaden educational perspectives, to shed light on cultural misunderstandings, and to promote cross-cultural acceptance and communication.”

Art Educator Pat Barbanell


Chief Jake Tekaronianeken Swamp teacher of cultural understanding. Art can provide a structure for encountering the reality of diverse cultures through the senses, and can also offer the opportunity to experience that reality through the sixth sense “insight.” Thus, a multicultural approach in art education can serve to broaden educational perspectives, to shed light on cultural misunderstandings, and to promote cross-cultural acceptance and communication.”

Wolf Clan, Akwesasne Mohawk Nation

“Giving Thanks” appears on the

Joanne Shenandoah CD “Covenant”


Thank You! teacher of cultural understanding. Art can provide a structure for encountering the reality of diverse cultures through the senses, and can also offer the opportunity to experience that reality through the sixth sense “insight.” Thus, a multicultural approach in art education can serve to broaden educational perspectives, to shed light on cultural misunderstandings, and to promote cross-cultural acceptance and communication.”

[email protected]


References teacher of cultural understanding. Art can provide a structure for encountering the reality of diverse cultures through the senses, and can also offer the opportunity to experience that reality through the sixth sense “insight.” Thus, a multicultural approach in art education can serve to broaden educational perspectives, to shed light on cultural misunderstandings, and to promote cross-cultural acceptance and communication.”

Adejumo, C. O. (2002). Considering multicultural art education.Art Education, 55,

33 –39.

Barbanell, P. (1994). Multicultural art education: many views, one reality. Journal of Cross-

cultural Multicultural and Research in Art Education, 12, 26-33.

Batdorf, B. (2002). Excerpt from The Haudenosaunee: A look at today’s NYS curriculum

[Electronic version]. SU NY Cortland Independent Study, 1-7. Retrieved April 10,

2005 from http://www.otsiningo.com/curic.htm

Cornelius, C. (1999). Iroquois corn in a culture-based curriculum: a framework for

respectfully teaching about cultures. Albany, NY: State University of New York

Press.

Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee, (1995). Policy statement on medicine masks

[Brochure]. (also found on the internet at http://www.nativetech.org/cornhusk/

maskpoli.html.)

Hill, R. W., (1998). The fine art of defining the Haudenosaunee. In S. S. Kasprycki,

A.V. Roth, & D. I. Stambrau (ED) Iroquois art: visual expressions of

contemporary Native American artists (pp. 2 – 7).Altenstadt, Germany: European Review of

Native American Studies.

Iroquois Hair Comb Education and Art Project (2002). About the project. Retrieved March

21, 2005, available from http://users.adelphia.net/~kerussell4/index.html


  • Irvine, H. B. (2005). The world’s art in your art world. teacher of cultural understanding. Art can provide a structure for encountering the reality of diverse cultures through the senses, and can also offer the opportunity to experience that reality through the sixth sense “insight.” Thus, a multicultural approach in art education can serve to broaden educational perspectives, to shed light on cultural misunderstandings, and to promote cross-cultural acceptance and communication.”School Arts, 104, 22-23.

  • Kasprycki, S. S., & Stambrau, D. I. (2003). Lifeworlds, artscapes: contemporary Iroquois

    • art. Frankfurt am Main: Galerie 37, Museum der Weltkulturen.

  • Lorenz, C. A. (2004). Creation: Haudenosaunee contemporary art and traditional

  • stories. Cazenovia, NY: Stone Quarry Hill Art Park.

  • Lorenz, C. A. (2003). Iroquois combs: traditional imagery, contemporary inspiration.

  • Hamilton, NY: Longyear Museum of Anthropology of Colgate University.

  • R. Parish (personal communication, March 6, 2005)

  • Six Nations, (2005). Who are the Haudenosaunee? Retrieved March 25, 2005 from

  • http://sixnations.buffnet.net/Culture/?article=who we are.

  • Stambrau, D. I., (1998). Living in two worlds: perspectives on contemporary Iroquois art.

  • In S. S. Kasprycki, A.V. Roth, & D. I. Stambrau (ED) Iroquois art: visual expressions of contemporary Native American artists (pp. 33).Altenstadt, Germany: European Review of Native American Studies.

  • T. Tarbell-Boehning (personal communication, April 8, 2005)


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