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Inspired by Ancient Cultures

Inspired by Ancient Cultures

I like to begin each year with a look at ancient art and the symbols that are still part of contemporary culture . Ironically, with all of the developments throughout history that led to printing, books, and education on a mass level, we are now full circle, back to abbreviated communication using some of the same symbols found in the caves and petroglyphs .This year, in addition to beginning with cave paintings we looked at the symbols of several ancient cultures: Egyptian hieroglyphics, Cave Paintings, and the indigenous people of Australia . Their symbols are the origins of all art and design, and led to the formation of alphabets and writing.

I recently came across some photos of city walls with messages, peeling paint, drawings, symbols and layers of information. A modern version of cave paintings and hieroglyphics and a reminder that art is everywhere. Art is without borders, beyond paper, canvas and Museum walls. We discussed this in class as part of the first of several lessons, comparing ancient art and contemporary artists that have been influenced by the same images and subject matter found in caves, hieroglyphics and petroglyphs .The enduring legacy of the earliest artists can be seen today in the resurgence of art reflecting the primal and universal images found in nature. A recent discovery of impressions of hands made by two children over 170,000 to 200,000 years ago, may be the earliest work of human art. The ancient prints were found near the village of Quesang in Tibet, in a petrified boulder beside a hot spring.

The class created a contemporary piece of art using ancient symbols and shapes combined with their own interpretation and colors. It was a good start for the first class of the year. We used a combination of circle templates as a starting off point and continued with paint sticks and markers to create contemporary, multi-layered mixed media drawings inspired by the early cultures. Kudos to my " Art Stars" !

In our next lesson we will look at two artists from the 20th century, Alexander Calder and Juan Miro, and the role some of the same symbols played in their art.


 Week One: Cave Paintings

It has been an eventful week in our Art Literacy class. We have been all around the world.  I would like to thank all of my wonderful students for their great efforts. We began with the story of the discovery of the discovery of cave paintings in Lascaux,  France  and also looked at images from  Spain , where the oldest known cave paintings have been found,  in the cave called El Castillo. The prehistoric dots and crimson hand stencils are now the world's oldest known cave art that dates more than 40,800 years old.

© Serene Greene- Art Literacy Academy
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