Magazine article School Arts

Mola Interpretations: Elementary

Magazine article School Arts

Mola Interpretations: Elementary

Article excerpt

I introduced the mola designs of the Kuna people of the San Bias Islands to the fifth grade. They became excited by the tropical imagery; the wildlife, intertwined with the flowering plant life and the ocean, in colorful and black and-white patterns, because it brought forth such possiblities.

I showed them several examples of molas from The Mola Design Book by Caren Caraway, an artist and writer who studied and visited with the Kuna. The author explained how the people created these designs as a response to the local flora and fauna, as if they are meaningful spirits. I further explained to the class that the original molas are panels of colorful cloth, which are sewn together by using a reverse applique technique on a black or white background.

When the class was ready to start their preliminary drawings, I asked students to plan these out on 8 x 11" (20 x 27 cm) tracing paper, reminding them that they could change or add to their design at any stage of the development. …

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