ArtsConnectEd/ArtsNet Minnesota
What is Art?

Art and Artists
 Africa, Zaire
 England, Higham Manor,
 Donald Judd
 New Mexico (Mimbres)
 Claes Oldenburg and
 Coosje van Bruggen
 Thailand,  (Blue Hmong)
 Robert Rauschenberg

Inner Worlds Environment   Identity Designing Spaces and Places
New Mexico (Mimbres)
About the Artists

The people who made these bowls lived about one thousand years ago. They lived in several small villages along the Mimbres River in what is now southwestern New Mexico. Mimbres is the Spanish word for willow. The Mimbres River was named by the Spanish when they arrived in New Mexico in the 16th century, for the willow trees that lined its banks. At the time these pots were made, about 300 people lived in each Mimbres village, for a total of 3,000 people in the Mimbres River valley. The river formed an oasis surrounded by mountains on three sides with the Sonoran desert opening out to the south.

The Mimbres people were farmers. Maize, or corn, was their most important crop, but they also gathered wild food from the desert and mountains. We do not know what language they spoke. What little we know about the Mimbres people comes by way of interpretations and analysis by archaeologists and cultural historians who have studied the materials excavated from ancient sites. The Pueblo Indian people, who are among their descendants, have provided deeper knowledge about the Mimbres.

The Mimbres people abandoned their villages about A.D. 1150, probably due to overpopulation and drought. We do not know where they went. Their villages were soon reoccupied by people whose styles of pottery and architecture were quite different from that of the Mimbres.

The villages in the Mimbres River valley were permanently abandoned in about 1400.

Vocabulary Terms

cosmos--The universe regarded as an orderly, harmonious whole.

Maya--A race of Native Americans in southern Mexico and Central America whose civilization reached its height around 1000 A.D.

oxidized--Combined with oxygen.

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