ArtsConnectEd/ArtsNet Minnesota
Inner Worlds

Art and Artists
 Arthur Dove
 Richard Hunt
 Judy Onofrio
 Betye Saar
 Kay Sage
 Yves Tanguy
 Jane Tuckerman

What is Art? Environment Identity Designing Spaces and Places
Richard Hunt
Discussion Questions/Activities
Look at the mask when it is closed. What features help identify the raven? What kinds of lines and shapes are used to define his features? Where do you see geometric forms? Where do you see organic forms? How do the colors help emphasize the bird's features? What human features do you see? Richard Hunt, Transformation Mask
Richard Hunt, Transformation Mask, closed

Richard Hunt, Transformation Mask Look at the open mask. How can you tell which animal is the serpent? Where is the serpent's body? Where is its head? How has Richard Hunt represented the serpent's scales? What shapes did he use?
Richard Hunt, Transformation Mask, open

This mask is called a "transformation mask." Why do you think it is called this? In what ways do you think the mask "transforms?" In what way is the dancer transformed when wearing the mask?

In what ways does this mask reflect the natural environment of the Northwest Coast Indians? How does it reflect the mythology or religious beliefs of the people? Based on this mask, what kind of relationship do you think the Northwest Coast Indians have with animals? With the environment?

In what way is this mask a reflection of the inner world of the artist? What does this mask tell you about Kwakiutl relationships with the inner, spiritual world? In what way are beliefs about the world a part of a person's "inner world?"

Family Crests
A group of Kwakiutl people who share the same ancestors are identified by their family crest. Crests or symbols which identify family groups exist in other cultures as well. Design a crest for your family. In what way does this crest identify your family?


Inner Transformations
Beliefs about the world are an important part of our "inner worlds." Have you ever had an experience that changed the way you look at the world? What events or people have helped shape how you behave and what you believe? Write a story about an inner transformation that changed the way you look at the world.

Raven Stories
One of the purposes of this mask is to recreate traditional Kwakiutl myths. Two traditional images of animals are used on the mask: Raven and Sisuitl, the serpent. There are many stories about Raven. Read Kwakiutl stories about Raven to learn more about his important place in Kwakiutl mythology.


Animals Abstracted
The Northwest Coast style of decoration uses simplified, abstract shapes to depict animal and human forms. This mask also uses symmetry. Find the lines of symmetry in both the open and closed mask. How did Richard Hunt use patterns and shapes to create the symmetry?

Pick two or three simple organic or geometric shapes and draw a symmetrical animal using only these shapes (a photograph of the animal would be helpful). Pay close attention to the size of body parts of the animal. Vary the size of your shapes accordingly. Try rotating the shapes--some might appear upside-down or sideways. Will you use mostly geometric or organic shapes to draw your animal? Will you use angular or curved shapes? Which seems to best capture the spirit of the animal? Try using the ovoid and the U-form, or create your own pattern.


Natural Solutions
Although Richard Hunt uses modern commercial paints, traditional Kwakiutl artists made their own paint out of natural materials. Experiment with the pigments in different natural materials. Find a natural material for each of the primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and black. What materials are best for drawing fine lines on paper? What might work well for painting? Which materials dry quickly and evenly? Do the materials stay fixed to the paper or do they crumble and fall off the paper? What might you add or do to the material to make it more useful for drawing or painting? (HINT: Try mixing materials with water or vegetable oil, or soak, boil, blend or dry plants and flowers to release pigments. How might you combine materials to create new colors? (HINT: Try drying and grinding materials; powders can be added to water). Keep a log with samples of materials and record the results of your findings.


Potlatch Ban
From 1884 to 1951 the Canadian government banned the potlatch ceremony. What kind of effect do you think this had on Kwakiutl traditions? Why do you think the government imposed the ban? Do you think it was fair? How did the traditions survive? What have the people done to revive the traditions? What other government restrictions throughout history have had similar effects? (See An Apology to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.)

Vocabulary Terms

abstract--Art that looks as if it contains little or no recognizable or realistic forms from the physical world. Focus on formal elements such as colors, lines, or shapes. Artists often "abstract" objects by changing, simplifying, or exaggerating what they see.

crest--A symbol representing families or clans, groups of people who share the same ansestors.

potlatch--An important ceremony of the Northwest Coast Indians in which the person hosting the potlatch gives away his or her possessions. It is a way for people to share their wealth with the community, to strengthen their leadership, and to earn the respect of others.

Additional Resources

Caduto, Michael and Joseph Bruchnac. Keepers of the Earth. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing, 1989. Emphasis on interdisciplinary approach to teaching about the Earth and Native American cultures, featuring a collection of Native American stories.

McDermott, G. Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest. New York: Harcourt Brace and Co., 1993. A Caldecott winner that tells a traditional Northwest Coast Indian tale of the trickster, Raven.

Halpern, I. Indian Music of the Pacific Northwest Coast. (Ethnic Folkways Library) New York: Folkways Records, 1967. Available through Smithsonian Institution Folkways.

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Discussion/Activities, About the Artist, About the Art, Teacher Lessons

Inner Worlds | What Is Art? | Environment | Designing Spaces and Places | Identity
About the Art| About the Artist| Discussion Questions/Activities | Teacher Lessons