Lesson 2: Pursuing Symbolic Meaning in Context

Symbols become more powerful when interaction or movement becomes part of an artwork.  This lesson explores movement and the cultural context of artworks.

Read/View:  Video on these links:

Consider how the puppets or the dancers’ dress in the two videos above.  Do the puppets and the clothing take on more meaning when seen with movement? Anthropologist Victor Turner believed that symbols can not always be interpreted until they were seen in action, since many objects’ meanings are related to their use. This statement could be true for many toys as well as other artworks. Examples are Navajo sand paintings (seen here; http://www.google.com/search?q=navajo+sand+paintings&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=DSVvUKmSDobc8wSq94HYDA&ved=0CCAQsAQ&biw=1228&bih=555),
that heal the sick through ritual or Puerto Rican masks used during Carnival (seen here: http://www.google.com/search?q=puerto+rican+masks&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=fCRvUNvPBYyQ8wSE74CgAQ&ved=0CCAQsAQ&biw=1228&bih=555).
Can you think of other items with symbols from your own culture that require movement or participation in order for their full symbolic meanings to become apparent?  Draw a picture or post a photograph of an object from your culture in action.  Post your artwork.

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