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The idea of not just copying another culture's art is really quite
important - I just held a teacher's workshop at the museum on this
topic in conjunction with an exhibition of Native American Art from
the Santa Fe Indian Studio School.
One point speaker made is - children copying Kachinas which are not
part of their culture would be like someone drawing Christ on the
cross without understanding what they are doing. Cultural objects
are often laden with meaning and are sacred to a particular group.
They are not just designs or patterns.
Looking at and UNDERSTANDING (why was it made, where was it made, how
was it used, who used it) the objects of another culture is an
important part of multi-cultural art education. Recreating or
copying these objects is a different matter.
The suggestions had been made for the children to draw parallels to
their own lives. For example, if you were looking at storyteller
"dolls", who tells the stories in this particular child's life.
Chances are it is not an Indian grandmother!
When we worked with the paintings from the Studio School - we wanted
the children to understand what the students were doing. The
subject matter was required to be of the Indian students
culture/daily life. It was not appropriate for our student to copy
pictures of Kachina dancers. On the other hand, they could do
paintings of daily events or special ceremonies in THEIR own lives.
In most cases, with some careful thought, a teacher can help students
understand cultural objects and create new/original objects
that reflect the cultural objects usage within our societal context.
Sorry for the longish post.
Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University