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Symbols and Honoring Boxes (Spaces)
Lesson plan written by judy butzine and Melanie Ohm, June 2009.
The primary Goal of this lesson plan is to create a material form that objectifies the act of giving honor and respect to the processes of Personal Remembrance and Intention Setting.
Project Activities (Beads & Honoring Boxes)
First read this paragraph and reflect on its meaning:
Symbol From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbol
A symbol is something such as an object, picture, written word, sound, or particular mark that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention. For example, a red octagon may stand for "STOP". On maps, crossed sabers may indicate a battlefield. Numerals are symbols for numbers. All language consists of symbols. The word "cat" is not a cat, but represents the idea of a cat. Psychology has found that people, and even animals, can respond to symbols as if they were the objects they represent.
A. The Artworld of Beads—background information
The word "Bead" comes from the Saxon word "Bidden" meaning to meditate or pray immediately suggesting a spiritual connection.
Beads are small material representations of ancient and contemporary cultures. They are symbols of identity and status; they are used in barter and exchange; they are amulets and talismans, they are ornaments, and they are used in rituals and ceremonies. Beads are associated with linking people together in communities, and with making immediate statements about values, ideas and beliefs.
An article in an ASU Research News Brief publication from the College of Liberal Arts documented a dig in Africa that Dr. Marean had actively participated on and its findings. Ostrich eggshell beads were identified along with Stone Age objects at a site in the Serengeti Plain, Tanzania, Africa. "Beads were not previously believed to be present in the Middle Stone Age and nothing like this has been published in Africa." The chronology of these beaded forms is still being considered, but it is believed that they predate the other known beaded artifacts of over 35,000 years in age. When asked what the possible significance of these beaded forms was, Dr. Marean's reply is as follows:
"As a means to bodily adornment, I think beads are clearly an expression of symbolic activity. What exactly that symbolic activity may be varies by culture, and is contextual to a people, time and place. So I would be a bit more guarded about suggesting universals about the meaning of beads. Our main concern is that they are a clear indicator of symbolic thought, and such thought is mandatory in language." (e-mail, to Bead Museum, 6/24/04) Dr. Curtis W. Marean, ASU Professor at the Institute of Human Origins, Dept. Anthropology, Arizona State University, Tempe. http://www.ArtsCARE.org/yoruba.chapter.1.shtml
Beads are very diverse in their materials and uses:
In cultures around the world beads are held and thoughtfully touched as a means to connect to higher energies during meditation, bringing comfort or perceived protection to the owner. They can be made from objects in nature or synthetically created in the modern world.
Milagros – Miracles - Milagro (votive) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milagro_(votive) - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Milagros (also known as an ex-voto) are religious folk charms that are traditionally used for healing purposes and as votive offerings in Mexico, the southern United States, other areas of Latin America, as well as parts of the Iberian peninsula. They are frequently attached onto altars, shrines, and sacred objects found in places of worship, and they are often purchased in churches, cathedrals or from street vendors.
Milagros come in a variety of shapes and dimensions and are fabricated from many different materials, depending on local customs. For example, they might be nearly flat or fully three dimensional; and they can be constructed from gold, silver, tin, lead, wood, bone, or wax. In Spanish, the word milagro literally means miracle or surprise.
There are thousands of symbols that may vary from one culture to the next. Before you create your bead strand, think of the symbols in your world that are important to you and the stories they reveal.
Consider color as well-how do specific colors affect you? The hot colors of the sun and red may bring you warmth. The cool colors of the ocean, sky and grass may promote comfort and peace for you. If you are doing this activity with others share stories about your personal symbols.
Participants will purchase or have available multiple kinds of beads and choose to create a bead strand that has meaning and significance to them through shape, design, material and color of the beads. These bead strands can go within the honoring space (box) you will now make or be attached to the form itself.
B. Creating the Honoring Box - The Art History background of Honoring Boxes (Spaces)
Honoring boxes take on many shapes and sizes and have existed in cultures around the world for thousands of years. They represent a material form that objectifies the act of giving honor and respect to the processes of Personal Remembrance and Intention Setting.
This component of the lesson plan Introduces the art history lesson of the Honoring Box as an assemblage or installation, an honoring space that is usually larger in scale and transforms an environment.
These are both assemblages using mixed media, but contained within one 3-dimensional structural element.
These honoring spaces illustrated above are installations which describe an artistic genre of site-specific, three-dimensional works designed to transform the perception of a space.
Our Lady of Guadalupe — The idea of ICONS as symbols.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, also called the Virgin of Guadalupe (Spanish: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe or Virgen de Guadalupe) is a 16th- century Roman Catholic Mexican icon representing an apparition of the Virgin Mary. It is perhaps Mexico's most popular religious and cultural image. Guadalupe's feast day is celebrated on December 12, commemorating the traditional account of her appearances near Mexico City from December 9, 1531 through December 12, 1531.
The Virgin of Guadalupe has also symbolized the Mexican nation since Mexico's War of Independence. Both Miguel Hidalgo and Emiliano Zapata's armies traveled underneath Guadalupan flags, and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is generally recognized as a symbol of all Mexicans. The Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes once said that "...one may no longer consider himself a Christian, but you cannot truly be considered a Mexican unless you believe in the Virgin of Guadalupe."
Nobel laureate Octavio Paz wrote in 1974 that "the Mexican people, after more than two centuries of experiments, have faith only in the Virgin of Guadalupe and the National Lottery"
C. Art Making Activity
HONORING OTHERS, HONORS OURSELVES, A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
As an act of art making, the honoring box holds meaning. Its context is the rich history of humanity. We are still people seeking to find answers to the challenges of life – our place in this world and the reason for being. judy butzine 2009
Creating honoring boxes with youth as small personal honoring 'spaces' is a concept that has its root in many cultures and is manifest in ofrendas, altars, shrines and the Tibetan Gau to name a few.
The learning experience centers around several processes:
Participants are prepped to have photos, text mementos and objects for the creation of their honoring boxes.
The Intentions for this youth experience may include::
MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES for Honoring Others, Honors Ourselves Material & supply costs will vary.
The Visioning questions (these will change depending upon the context for creating the Honoring Box or Space):
The processes for the art making activity:
Go through the magazines provided on the tables thinking about the above questions, tear out images and text that have personal meaning. You may also use the paper, markers and other items to create your own symbols and thoughts. (Words, phrases and images will appear spontaneously from one's intuitive consciousness.)
Make sure to use picture of self in a prominent position on or in the box.
Assessment through Reflection upon the significance of your completed Honoring Box:
When this art-making activity is completed, additional elements and objects may be added to the Honoring Box over time to reaffirm one's self and intentions, to recognize achievements and celebrate progress toward goals. - Melanie Ohm, 2009