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Copy of Copy of Ancient to Contemporary: Art of Mexio and Central and South America 2017-2018

Page history last edited by Susan Cormier 2 years ago


Ancient to Contemporary: Art of Mexico and Central and South America




60 minutes in length

5 stops



Journey through Latin American art to explore the cultural traditions of societies past and present. Students will make visual connections between works of art and reflect on the cultures that created them. Recommended for grades 3-12, this tour integrates the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, as well as the North Carolina Social Studies Standards, with North Carolina Visual Arts Standards.



  • Students observe and investigate primary sources in order to learn about the people, lifestyles, and beliefs of ancient and contemporary civilizations in Central and South America

  • Students gain confidence in developing personal interpretations about works of art and learn to recognize that people may view or interpret art differently

  • Students engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led), building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly






Welcome students. Introduce them to the Mint Museum.


What do you know about art museums?

How do we act in a museum?

What are you looking forward to today?


Let them know that they will be spending the next hour looking at and discussing works of art from Mexico and Central and South America.


Explain how looking long, closely, and deeply helps you notice more things. Inform students that they will be looking at each work of art silently before discussing the work as a group. Ask them to listen to and consider other students viewpoints and to raise their hand if they have something to share. Encourage everyone to participate in the discussions.


Model out loud your thinking process when looking at a work of art.


Let students know that throughout the tour they will be trying to create interpretations, or explain the meaning behind, works of art. Explain that interpretations of an artwork can grow and change as you continue to look and think more deeply. Add that they may be able to contribute to what is known about the artwork through careful looking. Acknowledge that people may have different interpretations of a picture and that is fine. Strengthen students’ understanding of the word interpretation by using it throughout the tour. For example, “Thank you Joey, for sharing with us your interpretation of this piece.”








Work of Art: Maya cylinder vessels, Cylinder Vessel with Procession of Wayob, Cylinder Vessel with God GI, and Cylinder Vessel with Scribes and Paint Pots

Goals: compositional format, hieroglyphs, Popol Vuh, scribes


What is going on in this picture?

What do you see that makes you say that?

What more can you find?


What function, if any, do you think these pieces performed?

What do you see that makes you say that?

Who do you think would have used this vessel?

What do you see that makes you say that?


Cylinder vessels were used to serve and drink cocoa beverages during feasts among the nobility. Feasting vessels also were gifts for the guests, functioning as lasting symbols of the relationship between host and guest.


  • Wayob- animal spirit companions

  • Popol Vuh- sacred text that contains mythical stories and the genealogy of the Post classic K'iche' kingdom in Guatemala

  • Scribes- younger sons of the nobility, educated in the arts and sciences and hieroglyphic writing

  • Hieroglyphics- a form of writing in which pictures or symbols are used to represent concepts, objects, or sounds

Hands-on:Maya cylinder vessels

Break students into three groups. Give each group one Maya cylinder vessel. Encourage students to touch the vessel and look at the entire image on the piece. Ask students to discuss the images on the vessel and interpret the story that they think is being told.


How do these vessels compare to the ones that you use to drink hot chocolate or tea?



Work of Art: Portrait of an Elite Male with a Turban

Goals: social hierarchy, burial rituals, realism


What do you notice about this work of art?

Who do you think this portrait represents?

What do you see that makes you say that?


This is a portrait of a high ranking person, perhaps a celebrated ruler or warrior. The band around the turban was a sign of high status in the Andes. The striped face paint may have marked him as a member of a particular clan.


What purpose, if any, do you think this object served?

What do you see that makes you say that?


These bottles were presented as gifts or rewards for achievements accomplished by important people in Andean culture. People would be buried with their portrait vessels to show their achievements during their lifetime.






Work of Art: Incense burner and Silver tea or coca leaf caddie

Goals: trade, religious conversion


What do you see?

What do you think about that?

What does it make you wonder?


Incense Burner:

  • Incense burners play important roles in many religious ceremonies, including those of the Spanish Colonials, who were Catholic, and the Ancient American religions. Incense burners hold burning resin which escapes from the holes in the burner.

  • For the Catholics, the smoke symbolically connects earth with heaven. Ancient Americans used ceramic censers to burn incense. The act of burning incense was used to communicate with the gods.

Coca leaf caddie:

  • The Ancient Americans used coca leaf tea as a medicine for stomach ailments, altitude sickness, and as a stimulant to overcome fatigue, hunger, and thirst.

  • Many Spaniards, particularly priests, denounced coca chewing because the leaf was associated with pre-Christian gods and ceremonies they sought to stamp out, but it remained in demand with silver mine workers because of its properties as a stimulant.


  • The Viceroyalty of Peru provided much of Spain’s wealth due to its silver and gold mines, precious gems, minerals, and agricultural products. The Spanish forced indigenous people to do the labor-intensive, dangerous, and difficult job of working in the silver mines. With the silver the Spanish created objects for the wealthy and to adorn Catholic churches.






Work of Art: Seated Noblewoman 650-800 C.E., Huipil (Blouse) 20th Century, Women's Outfit, Cinta(Hair Band) 20th Century

Goals: huipil, cinta, symbols, cultural identity


Look at Seated Noblewoman


What do you notice about this work of art?

What do you see that makes you say that?


Look at Cinta


What do you see?

Who would wear this?

What similarities and differences can you notice between the cinta and what the Seated Noblewomanis wearing?



Mayan women wrap cintas around their heads many times to create a halo-like headdress. The headdress links women to their communities, to the universe and its natural cycles, and to the gods and sacred ancestors.


Look at Huipil


What do you see?

Who would wear this?

How does this compare to the Seated Noblewoman’s shirt?

Hands-on: Huipils

Allow students to handle and try on study collection huipils.


  • Each Mayan community and geographical region has its own very specific way of dressing. Traditionally, one could guess what community a Mayan woman was from based on the colors and design of her huipil.

  • Clothing can also be used to identify one’s sex, age group, and marital status. For example, widows typically wear darker colors and avoid the use of red, and unmarried girls often wear intricately decorated clothing that highlight their personal pride and hardworking nature, indicating they will be good wives.

  • The symbols on Mayan clothing can represent political affiliations, social status, and religion.


Do you see any symbols in this piece? What do you think they represent?

Why would the person who wore this want these symbols on their clothing?

Does your clothing have any symbols on it?

How do our clothes show status? (doctor, businessperson, soldier, priest, etc.)





Work of Art: Jaguar Mask, 20th century

Goals: performance


What are some movements that this work of art shows or evokes?

How did the artist create the effect of [insert movement?]

Why do we wear masks?


As a group, have students do the movements that the work of art evoked in them.















Did you have a favorite work of art? Why?

What is the most surprising information you learned?


Thank students for participating and encourage them to return to the Museum with their families.


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