Magazine article School Arts

Senufo Cloth Drawings

Magazine article School Arts

Senufo Cloth Drawings

Article excerpt

My sixth grade students love working with patterns and repeated shapes. I wanted to develop a lesson that continued to broaden their experience with art from other cultures as well as use material for their work other than paper. (I must also admit that having a lot of unprimed canvas in my supply closest certainly contributed to my motivation.) In thinking about several possibilities, I finally decided that for inspiration I would use the cloth paintings of the Senufo people from the Ivory Coast of West Africa.

Senufo Traditions and Art

The Senufo (Senoufo) people inhabit the north central area of the Ivory Coast, neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, and are centered in the Ivory Coast city of Korhogo. These people have a rich and often difficult history in which struggle and displacement were common. Senufo wooden masks and cloth paintings are among the most renowned in Africa.

Sekon Sekongo, a highly admired Senufo artist, is best known for his images on cloth. His paintings are executed in a very traditional way using cotton cloth. Dyes are made from pulverized corn and the leaves and bark of a shrub known locally as N'gamenan. Sekongo is one of the last representative artists working in the traditional manner of cloth painting.

Design motifs for these paintings usually include birds, snakes, fish, frogs, crocodiles, and turtles as seen from above or side view. The surface of the images were most often geometric in design. Traditional painted cloth used to be made into clothes for hunting or initiation rites. …

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