How did Whiteman use color, shape, and texture to create a feeling
of the natural environment? Why do you think he chose to use unnatural
materials to communicate the importance of the natural environment?
What did he do to the materials to give them a more organic
Neon and steel are also very modern materials. Why do you think
Whiteman chose such modern materials to depict ancient traditional
images? How would this sculpture appear to be different without
the neon light?
Balance between the natural world, animals, and humans is an important
part of many Native American traditions. Balance between past and
present is also personally important to Whiteman. In what way does
this sculpture reflect these ideals?
Before the arrival of European settlers, Native Americans passed
their history and traditions from one generation to the next through
the spoken word. Imagine that you had no written language. How would
you record things that were important to you?
Who Am I?
Whiteman uses a combination of images, symbols, and materials to
convey important ideas about his cultural and personal identity.
Think about what things are important to your cultural or personal
identity. What makes you the person you are? What important events
in your life or in history have helped shape your identity? Interview
your parents or a relative about your family history. What role
do personal or cultural celebrations play? How do your relationships
with other people and the environment around you effect your outlook
on life? Create a sculpture which conveys something about who you
are, either personally or culturally . Think carefully about the
materials you choose. How do they reflect your ideas? What kind
of feeling or mood is created by the texture or color of the material.
What kinds of images or symbols might be used to allude to important
ideas or events?
LANGUAGE ARTS ACTIVITY
For Further Study . . .
Read the Goast Horse Cycle series of books by Jamake Highwater,
a contemporary Native American writer. These books include: Legend
Days, The Ceremony of Innocence, and I Wear the Morning
Star. In this series, a young artist learns about his past
through his grandmotherís stories and engages in a search to discover
the meaning of his heritage.
Gesture as Communication
Whiteman used the gestures of the figure
to communicate the importance of the natural environment. Use gesture
(no words) to communicate something which is important to you or
to tell something about yourself. How do the movements you make
communicate your ideas? Think about what kinds of movements can
best communicate your ideas. Short and Quick? Long and sweeping?
What feeling or mood do your movements create?
Everything Changes with Time
Whiteman purposely aged the steel on this sculpture to give it a
natural feeling. Even in the controlled environment of the museum,
the sculpture will slowly continue to rust and change. This slow
deterioration, however, is part of the sculpture. As Whiteman says,
"Everything in life deteriorates and changes." How do
you think the sculpture would change if it were kept oudoors instead
of in a museum? What effect does the environment have on materials
such as steel or bronze? Have you ever seen a sculpture outside
which has a green tint to it? Experiment with the effects of environmental
elements on metal. How long does the rusting process take to begin
in rain? How does humidity effect it? How does bright sun effect
it? Why does salt water speed the rusting process? What other substances
might speed this process?
SOCIAL STUDIES/SCIENCE ACTIVITY
Keeping the Balance
Research and write about the importance of the environment in contemporary
American culture. Is keeping a balance with the earth something
valued in the United States? How do goverment policies affect the
environment in this country? What might you do to preserve the balance
between what the earth gives you and what you take from it? What
might you give back to the earth?
Petroglyphs and Rock Art
Research the possible meanings and importance of petroglyphs
to ancient Native American peoples. What are some of the reasons
that this information was not preserved? For more information and
pictures of petroglyphs and other rock art, try looking up this
gesture - A motion of the
body as a means of communication or expression.
organic - Relating to or
derived from a living organism.
petroglyphs - An ancient
carving or inscription in a rock.