Magazine article School Arts

Here Comes the Sun

Magazine article School Arts

Here Comes the Sun

Article excerpt

I was once told that there was nothing new in art, only new relationships to already established art forms and art media. In this lesson, fourth grade students created a new relationship between a fairly modern art medium---colored tissue--and an ancient craft.

Yarn Painting

Yarn painting is one of the more popular art forms of the Huichol, an indigenous people from the western Sierra Madre ranges in Mexico. The Huichol make yarn paintings in the sun by coating a board with beeswax and pressing yarn into the warm wax.

Classroom Adaptation

A popular adaptation to this technique is done by gluing yarn to a board with white glue. This craft form can be applied very easily to the classroom.

Another variation of this technique is to substitute twisted tissue paper for the yarn. Using twisted tissue paper makes the project much more student friendly. We take strips of colored tissue and twist them into rope-like forms. The twisted tissue is easy to cut and adheres to a background much better than yarn.

Historically, the Huichol have used a variety of motifs in their yarn painting such as corn, deer, wolves, birds, eagles, reptiles, scorpions, cactus, human figures, and the sun. All these motifs have religious symbolism to the Huichol. The sun, for example, is considered to be the source of their life force and the grantor of abundant crops. The cactus, corn, and deer represent the maintenance of life. We focused on the sun as our motif for this lesson and discussed how to stylize the sun through distortion and repetition of its basic forms.

We began by making a pencil drawing of a sun on a square of oak tag. First we outlined the design with twisted tissue and then began to fill in areas by conforming to the original contours and creating spirals to fill large areas. The glue was applied first, then the twisted tissue was placed in the glue. …

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