>Aztec Suns

Article excerpt

There is a large population of students from Mexico in my school district. I wanted to come up with a project that touched on their culture.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

While doing research, I discovered a revered Mexican artifact called the Aztec Sun Stone (see Sept. 2006 Clip & Save Art Print). It is said to be perhaps the most famous symbol of Mexico, besides its flag. The stone measures about 12 feet in diameter, 4 feet in thickness and weighs 24 tons.

The original basalt version is currently on display at the National Museum of Anthropology and History in Chapultepec Park outside of Mexico City. It primarily depicts the four great disasters that led to the migration of the Mexica people to modern-day Mexico City. (One of the ancient Mesoamerican people, the Mexica gave the name to the land called Mexico today.) The Aztec Sun Stone also contains pictographs depicting the way the Mexica measured time, and was primarily a religious artifact.

Armed with this information, I wanted to have my sixth-grade students create their own imaginative suns. Besides the Aztec Sun Stone, with the help of the Internet I was able to come up with more examples of fanciful suns found in art and artifacts.

The Aztec Sun was carved out of stone and my art room is not equipped for stone carving, yet I wanted to give students carving experience with the materials I was equipped for. It turns out this project worked nicely using scratchboard, where the student gets the experience of carving or scratching the surface to create their artwork. Block printing was also a logical choice because the students actually do use carving tools in creating their project.

The students sketched their ideas out on what I like to call circular graph paper. I handed out a 4" x 4" piece of square paper with a series of concentric circles in the middle about a half-inch apart--like a bull's-eye. …