- This skirt was made to be worn for the Hmong New Year celebration,
a festive time of year during which people danceand play games.
How does this skirt reflect such an occasion? How do the lines,
patterns, and colors help to make the skirt seem festive? What
did the artist do to give the skirt movement?
- How can you tell that the Hmong women who made this skirt had
high standards? In what ways would this skirt advertise the skill
of its maker?
- The Transformation Mask
and this Hmong skirt were made in the 20th century using traditional
methods. How has each artist drawn upon traditions of their culture?
How have they incorporated contemporary methods?
- Do you think this skirt is art or craft? Why? What is the difference
between art and craft?
- Should this skirt be displayed in a museum? Why or why not?
Would you would of the skirt as art if you saw someone wearing
it? In the museum the skirt is hanging on the wall behind Plexiglas.
Do you think this context changes your reaction to it?
- If a beautiful skirt from a department store were hung on the
wall in a museum, would you think it was art? Why or why not?
What is the difference between a piece of clothing from a department
store and this skirt? What if the skirt from the department store
were identical to this skirt. Would you consider it art? How can
you decide if something is art?
Treatments for Textiles
This skirt uses several different needlework and textile design
techniques. Try dyeing a piece of clothing such as a T-shirt using
batik techniques. Try appliqué by sewing fabric pieces over
areas of your clothing. Finally, cross-stitch a section (perhaps
the borders) of your fabric.
LANGUAGE ARTS ACTIVITY
In recent years, many Hmong women have adapted the patterns and
techniques of their clothing to create textiles called "story
cloths," embroidered fabrics with scenes depicting Hmong folklore,
traditional village life, celebrations, and events. Read Diai's
Story Cloth by D. Cha. This book tells the story of Hmong immigration
to America using story cloth images. Find an example of a story
cloth and write out the story depicted on the cloth. Try using pictures
to tell a story about something that has happened to you.
This skirt contains many complex patterns. How often are the patterns
repeated? How many variations of the same patterns are there? Make
a chart that represents the sequence of patterns on this skirt,
assigning a letter or number to each element. Ask a friend or classmate
to do the same exercise. Compare your charts. Did you both come
up with the same result?
Clothing in Motion
In what ways has the creator of this skirt enhanced its sense of
movement? How do you think the skirt would move as someone danced
in it? Design a costume or piece of clothing that promotes a certain
type of movement. For example: long and flowing, short and sharp,
lively and bouncy. Think about what fabric and colors best express
this movement. Create and perform a dance that highlights the costume.
Experiments with Color
Explore the effects of various color combinations on human perception.
Cut two 2 x 2-inch squares out of red construction paper. Place
one red square in the middle of a 3 x 3-inch square of green paper
and the other in a 3 x3-inch square of orange. How does the background
color change the appearance of the red? Experiment with other color
SOCIAL STUDIES ACTIVITY
In the 1960s, war in Southeast Asia had a devastating impact on
the Hmong, destroying their economy and food supply. By 1970, large
numbers of Hmong people living in Laos had become actively involved
in the war, allied with the U.S. military. When the U.S. withdrew
its troops from the area, the Hmong were forced to flee to refugee
camps in Thailand to escape political persecution.
Study the effects of the war in Southeast Asia on the Hmong. Interview
a Hmong member of your community to find out about his or her experiences.
Read tesimonials by Hmong people about their experiences in the
book, Hmong Means Free: Life in Laos and America, by Sucheng
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