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Submitted by: Annamae Heiman, Benjamin Franklin School
Unit: Influences on Identity (culture, ancestors) - mixed media - foil tooling
Grade Level: Sixth grade (grades 4 - 6 upper elementary - middle school)
What treasure is waiting behind your door?
Students viewed and discussed the Elements and Principles of Art present in the Granary Doors of Africa. They discovered the door was usually made for a leader of the community. Inside the building on which the door was hung, the leader would keep a treasure or something of importance and worth, such as grain. Only this leader would have access to the treasure. He would determine the time of distribution and the amount allotted to his subjects. Sixth graders then worked in small groups comparing and contrasting decorative doors throughout the world. Students designed their own door. In relief, on copper foil, they created symbols representing both their identity and their treasure. The foil was then mounted on cardboard. Referring to the doors used throughout the world, boys and girls designed the structure around the foil with colored paper and marker. The treasure behind the door was drawn in perspective and again finished with colored paper and marker.
Click images for full size
Visual Art Standards:
Historical, Cultural, and Social Contexts
Students understand the impact of visual art on the history, culture, and society from which it emanates. They understand the cultural, social, and political forces that in turn shape visual art communication and expression.
Benchmark A: Compare and contrast the characteristics of art forms created by artists in various cultures and historical periods.
Benchmark D: Research culturally or historically significant works of art and discuss their roles in society, history, culture or politics.
1. Identify visual forms of expression found throughout different cultures.
5. Identify themes and symbols used in works of art from across time that portray universal ideas.
Creative Expression and Communication
Students create artworks that demonstrate understanding of materials, processes, media, techniques, and available technology. They understand how to use art elements, principles, and images to communicate their ideas in a variety of visual forms.
Benchmark A: Create two and three-dimensional original artwork that demonstrates individual style as a means of visual expression and communication.
1. Demonstrate skill using perspective in their artworks.
Benchmark B: Skillfully use different media, techniques and processes to communicate feelings, themes, or ideas in two- and three-dimensional works of art.
3. Select specific media and processes to express moods, feelings, themes or ideas.
5. Use the art of others as inspiration for the expressive use of visual images.
6. Demonstrate an enhanced level of craftsmanship in original art products.
Analyzing and Responding
Students identify and discriminate among media and technical and expressive aspects in works of art. They understand and use a critical vocabulary to describe, analyze, and interpret works of art.
Students recognize and make judgments about the qualities of works of art using the appropriate criteria.
Benchmark A: Establish and apply strategies of art criticism to examine and interpret selected works of art.
Benchmark C: Establish and use criteria for making judgments about works of art.
1. Describe how art elements and principles are used in works of art to create visual effects (e.g., line thickness, color characteristics, shape variations-organic/geometric, tactile qualities, size variation)
Identity is public and private.
Identity is about position and relationships in family, community and the world.
Identity is about heroes and models
Art reflects identity.
1. There is diversity among the ethnic groups of Africa in their languages, cultures, histories and governments. Each group has a distinct and unique cultural heritage. (Students will primarily compare Dogon and Senufo)
2. Objects may be similar in function but different in structure due to who made it, materials used, and how and when it was made.
3. A cultural group's beliefs and values are reflected in its art forms and stylistic choices.
Cincinnati Museum of Art- Behind the Glass
National Museum of African Art / Smithsonian Institution - Searchable
Five doors can be found by searching the collection.
Africa: The Art of the Continent - from the Guggenheim, searchable by area. This page is no longer online. This is the archived version of the site.
Most of the Dogon live in more than 700 small villages scattered over 15,000 square miles in the Bandiagara region of north central Mali, an area of high cliffs and natural caves. Some live on a sandstone plateau above the cliffs and the rest live in the sandy plains below. Until 1930, the Dogon were isolated from the rest of the world and were opposed to foreign influences on their culture and society. For many years, this protected them from attacks by outsiders. The Dogon are famous for their distinctive village architecture, beautifully carved wooden masks, and granary doors. (from Antioch College)
Dogon Granary Doors frequently have carved primordial beings, ancestors, Kanaga masks, sun lizards and scenes of life that symbolically serve to protect the entrance. Larger Dogon doors are used at the entrances of the ancient mud compounds. The carvings on them depict the rain, harvest, dancing and symbols that reflect daily life. The doors are used to display carvings of Dogon mythology and cosmology. The doors often portray conical female breasts surrounded by row on row of stylized human figures and animals. These figures represent the eight ancestors of mankind in the Dogon story of creation. Added by Melissa Enderle (who spent a year in Mali): The Dogon are ancestor worshipers (by tradition). Many of the granary doors/windows depict scenes of the original eight ancestors, as well as significant and symbolic animals such as rabbits, crocodiles, and turtles. The granaries I saw stored grain as well as personal possessions. You can see a few doors/windows at my website. (Archive - Also see her new website.)
Read more about the Dogon of Mali (Archive - Also see her new website.)
A topic for debate: Many of the granary doors are disappearing, being sold off and bought by Western collectors. Some of these doors are very old and culturally significant. With the high prices that collectors are willing to pay (sometimes they go right up to locals and ask to purchase the carved doors), it's no wonder why the Dogon are willing to sell part of their culture. As one Dogon man (who had two rooms full of items that could have been in a museum, just ready for sale) said, "my family needs to eat now".
9" x 12" (23 x 31 cm) Tag board (2 per student), 9" x 12" (23 x 30.5 cm)Newsprint, Tooling Foil* (cut to desired size), newspapers (for tooling pads), Drawing Pencils, Clay Modeling Tools, Colored Markers, Colored Pencils, Scissors, Construction Paper, White Glue.
Present transparencies and reproductions of granary doors. What can they tell about the doors? (Work in small groups)
Who made them?
When and where were they created?
How were they made and with what media?
Why were they made?
Can they draw any meaning from them?
Discuss findings as class.
Define "relief" and point out features of relief.
Then, share the fact that it was made in Africa- Now, what can they tell or interpret from the pieces?
(The door was usually made for a leader of the community. Inside the building on which the door was hung, the leader kept a treasure or something of importance and worth such as grain. Only this leader had access to the treasure. He determined the time of distribution and the amount allotted to his subjects.
The relief designs symbolize the status of the leader or family and the cultural, spiritual beings associated with the harvest inside the building. Info from "Behind the Glass," Cincinnati Museum of Art)
How are they the same?
They reflect that this is an important place, that who or what is behind the door-is important.
They reflect cultural/ societal influence and identity through symbols, colors, materials.
All doors are divided geometrically
How are they different?
Treasures inside reflect value system of the particular society, culture, group or individual
Images/ symbolism on doors change according to culture and/or society and beliefs
Materials change according to location and function.
Sketch features that they find symbolic, or that communicate effectively
What valued treasure does the door to your home protect? (family, money, furniture….)
Do you display your identity at your house in some way on the door? (name plates, numbers, and symbols of heritage)
What other doors are used in our community to project identity and protect treasure? (Church doors with religious or cultural symbols that protect the people and sacred objects inside, perhaps doors to banks with logos to protect the money…)
In journal take time to reflect and answer:
Imagine your most valuable treasure.
What (or who) would you choose and why?
How would you keep this treasure safe with a special door?
How would you communicate both the importance of the owner (you) and the treasure?
What symbols would best communicate your heritage, beliefs or other parts of your identity?
Tell students that they will be able to create their door with relief as well.
Demonstrate the qualities of the foil and how they will be able to create texture with their design.
Create 2 sketches by folding a blank page in half:
1. How can you communicate your identity and your treasure through a door relief?
2. Next, imagine a treasure
Be able to tell why you used the symbols in the manner that you chose- what do they depict or communicate about you, your ancestors and your treasure?
How did you change the symbols to make them your own?
What designs, symbols and patterning features will you use?
Remind the students of the geometrically divided patterns.
Depending on size of foil, encourage the students to divide the doors into two or three sections to accommodate symbols of identity and their treasure. This will help them organize their symbols.
How will you include a variety of texture
Step One- Foil:
Place chosen design over 4"x6" (10 x 15.25 cm) Bronze Foil. (Also available in rolls, sometimes in vibrant colors, from local craft stores as well as Art Supply Catalogs)
Make sure there are newspaper layers beneath foil and the foil is taped to the newspaper. This will also protect the student from sharp edges.
Use dull pencil trace all lines of designs with just enough pressure to indent design into foil.
Complete embossing process using different tools to provide varying texture and interest.
Step Two- Door Structure:
Refer to the overhead pictures. Note the styles of door structures. Mount embossed foil design onto
9"x12" (23 x 30.5 cm) tag board cut like a door.
Cut (solid line) and score (dotted line) as shown so the door will open and close. Mount foil on door (center).
Use construction paper to design outer door structure. Remind them that while they all have a similar frame it is not necessary to keep the structure around them rectangular. Encourage the students to add paper and other media to create an original frame. Don’t forget the hinges and doorknob!
Step Three- Inside the Door:
Distribute another, uncut 9"x12" (23 x 30.5 cm) white tag board sheet. Students design inside of their special area.
Behind the door have students draw a picture of their treasure. They may use photos or cutout construction paper. Glue the outer and inner door together.
This is after a short lesson in perspective and use of overlap and size to create a feeling of depth.
Also ask students how they will emphasize their treasure. Where will they put it to give it a place of importance in the room?
Artwork with Rubric and Final Self Evaluation/Reflection Paper (Word file)
The sketch of the door on the front of the reflection is blank so students can draw the divisions they created. Lines are supplied for explanations of three symbols. Students may need to draw more lines and arrows.
Rubric (adapted from Marianne Galyk) To print, right-click > view image > print
For Bulletin Board Display:
WHAT WOULD YOU TREASURE?
GRADE 6 LESSON BASED ON THE GRANARY DOORS OF AFRICA
Students viewed and discussed the Elements and Principles of Art present in the Granary Doors of Africa. They discovered the door was usually made for a leader of the community. Inside the building on which the door was hung, the leader kept a treasure or something of importance and worth such as grain. Only this leader had access to the treasure. He determined the time of distribution and the amount allotted to his subjects.
The relief designs symbolize the status of the leader or family and the cultural, spiritual beings associated with the harvest inside the building.
Sixth graders then worked in small groups comparing decorative doors throughout the world.
Students designed their own door. In relief, on Copper Tooling Foil they created symbols representing both their identity and their treasure. The foil was then mounted on cardboard. Referring to the doors used throughout the world, boys and girls designed an original structure around the foil with colored paper and marker. The treasure behind the door was drawn in perspective and again finished with colored paper and marker.
National Standards: (standard covered will depend on class discussion/reflection)
1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes.
2. Using knowledge of structures and functions.
3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas.
4. Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures.
5. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others.
6. Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines.
Students generalize about the effects of visual structures and functions and reflect upon these effects in their own work.
Students know and compare the characteristics of artworks in various eras and cultures.
Students compare multiple purposes for creating works of art.
Students intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.
Students use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.
Students describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.
Students describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with the visual arts.
Students select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.
Students analyze, describe, and demonstrate how factors of time and place (such as climate, resources, ideas, and technology) influence visual characteristics that give meaning and value to a work of art.
Students describe and compare a variety of individual responses to their own artworks and to artworks from various eras and cultures.
Alternate Lesson Ideas:
Create cardboard relief doors - students could also make an embossed print of the cardboard relief.
Make ceramic doors and door frame - use carving and additive techniques.
*Tip from Brandy Bergenstock:
When I wanted to use foiling, I went to the hardware store and bought a 20' (61 meters) length of Copper Flashing made for roofs to ward off roof stains.