Ofrendas, Origami, and Jackie O.

Lindsey and Maggie work on their ofrendas

It was exciting to visit with Austin High School students this week about who they’ve chosen to honor with their ofrenda and what colors, images, and symbols they will use to represent the person(s) they’re honoring. Maggie (above, in blue) is planning to honor her grandfather, who was a professional firefighter. Lindsey (above, in black) is dedicating her ofrenda to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis – we talked about the Andy Warhol homage to Jackie O.

Lindsey and Logan learning to make origami roses

Later in the class period, Lindsey and Logan watched a YouTube two part video demonstrating how to make extremely complicated origami roses that Logan plans to include in his ofrenda. See origami rose folding demo part 1 and part 2.

Miguel honors his great grandfather with his ofrenda

Miguel is honoring his bisabuelo (great grandfather), who lived in Mexico and worked as a cattle rancher. Miguel is thinking of including a small steer sculpture to represent this aspect of his great grandfather’s life. He doesn’t remember a lot of other details about his great grandfather, so he plans to interview older family members to gather more information, ideas, and images.


Art for the Ancestors Inspires Edison Students at the MIA

Edison High School students visited the MIA for tours about honoring ancestors on Wednesday, Septmeber 28. They observed details of art works ranging from a 17th-century Chinese Audience Hall, and an ancient Mexican tomb sculpture to African sculptures spanning centuries. They speculated on the meanings of the works of art and discussed how the choices made by the artists might influence their own ofrendas. The tour guides also engaged the students in conversation about two of the ofrendas made by El Colegio High School students for last year’s exhibition and introduced them to the gallery in which the ofrendas will be exhibited from November 1 to December 4.

Edison Students head to the galleries

The rich ofrenda designs created by the students back at school reflect ideas inspired by their museum visit including the use of symmetry, banners, figures on multiple levels and writing integrated with images.  Their week ended in the art studio where the students began to transform their crates into unique ofrendas.

A lesson in symmetry from the ancient Egyptians

Ofrendas from last year’s exhibition inspire students

Edison Students Express Themselves

Edison student's work-in-progess

Thomas Edison High School students in Señoritas Perry and Davis’ classes explored artistic expression firsthand during Phase 2 of the project. Each student created an art work about his or her feelings, making artistic choices about color, composition  and materials, which ranged from colored pencils, feathers, paper and ribbons to glitter glue, stickers and yarn. In preparation for writing artist’s statements later, the students also wrote about the choices they made for their art works and how these expressed what they were thinking about.

An Edison student at work

Señorita Davis led a lively discussion about her own obra de arte. She emphasized that student responses to her art work were equally valid as the meanings she expressed.

The Edison student artists are working on the final plans for their ofrendas and will begin filling the crates with images and symbols this week. They’ll also be coming to the MIA for a guided tour on the theme of “Honoring Ancestors.”


Austin High School is Proud!

Mr. Brobeck talking to the class

When we visited Austin High School (home of the Packers) recently, it was really neat to hear Mr. Brobeck talking with students about how proud the school and community are to partner with the MIA.

110 miles south of Minneapolis, Austin is home to Hormel Foods and the SPAM Museum. Austin High School is the only 2011 partner representing Greater Minnesota (meaning it’s outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area). Mr. Brobeck told the students their involvement in the Young People’s Ofrenda project is a chance to raise the profile of the school and the community in Minnesota and beyond through the exhibition of student ofrendas and Austin’s representation right here on the blog.

We’ll be back in Austin next week. We’re looking forward to checking in with Mr. Brobeck’s students to see the progress they’ve made on their ofrendas.

Phase 2: Turn Ideas into Images

As the second week of this project comes to a close, an update from Humboldt High School is in order. This week’s focus has been “turn ideas into images,” and the students have been using their work during phase one as a guide. Using the materials in the Ofrenda Teacher’s Guide, Art teacher Mr. Elizondo, has his students develop their ideas on a worksheet before they start to video record their thoughts.

Many of the students have already painted their wooden crates and have started to add photographs of their subjects.

And of some of the painting is very detailed:

Or in progress:

We will be following the progress of several ofrendas as they come together, and this week’s focus is the work that honors the famous Hunkpapa Lakota Sitting Bull (Tatonka-Iyatanka).

Mr. Elizondo and the student discuss her Sitting Bull ofrenda

In her work, she has cleverly painted the four sides of the crates white, red, black, yellow. These colors are often referred to as the four sacred colors that symbolize the four directions among Native American traditionalists. We’ll check in next week to see how it is progressing.

Do you need a poster for your classroom? Send us an e-mail at: ofrenda@artsmia.org and we will send you one!

Edison High School Students Write About Their Ofrendas

Edison High School students in Spanish classes with Señoritas Davis and Perry engaged in lively discussions in response to their research about Días de los Muertos and ofrendas. Students enjoyed learning that this celebration of life mocks death, and found it interesting that in Mexico celebrants eat at the graveside and that ofrendas can be made not only for family, but also for others who have died. Another discussion focused on how cool it is that everyone who has died is celebrated at the same time.

Discussion questions for Edison students

The students have also begun to write journal entries about their personal ofrendas in response to questions like “To whom do I want to dedicate this ofrenda?” and “What more would I like to know about this person or people?” As the students continue to learn more about the people they have chosen to honor, they are also beginning to turn their ideas into designs for their ofrendas.

Happy face!

Are you and your students following the project using the Ofrenda Teacher’s Guide? Need it in Spanish? We would love to hear how your project is going!

El Colegio High School visits the MIA

Fifteen energetic ninth graders from El Colegio High School visited the Minneapolis Institute of Arts last Wednesday for a tour. Students had the opportunity to view objects in the museum’s collections on the theme of honoring ancestors. Their tour led them around the world in the span of only a few hundred feet and their interests were piqued by the many similarities various cultures share in regards to honoring ancestors. As we observed the students scribbling away on their notepads, we hoped the tour spurred some great imagery for them to use in their own ofrenda creations. Stay tuned!

Spanish-speaking tour guide, Maria (second from the left) prepares to tour the students from El Colegio High School.

Interested in Spanish language tours at the MIA? Go here for more information.

Humboldt Secondary School is Off and Running!

We took an afternoon and visited Humboldt Secondary School to see the progress of their ofrendas. There are two classes that are working on this project at the same time, Mr. Elizondo’s and Ms. Millazzo’s students are making great headway. They have chosen their topics and are painting their wooden crates. The teacher remarks, “The crates have been delivered and the students are hard at work generating ideas for their Ofrenda. After viewing past Ofrendas, they are excited to get started,” Steve Elizondo- Art Teacher.

Mr. Elizondo's Art Class

Ms. Milazzo's Art Class

There are several students who have started painting the details for their ofrenda, and next week they will gather materials and start to glue items in. There were a wide variety of subjects; family members, fellow students, General Vang Pao, Sitting Bull, and Marilyn Monroe. It is great to see a wide variety of subjects. Clearly, the students have given the question on the blackboard some thought:


Partner Schools Begin Ofrenda Project

The 2011 partner schools recently received the fruit crates that will be “containers” for the ofrendas their students will make in the next few weeks. Here are the crates in the art room at Austin High School (Austin, MN) earlier this week. So far, students have been learning about global and Mexican traditions for honoring ancestors. Soon, they will decide on the subject for their ofrendas.

Students at Austin asked great questions of their teacher Mr. Brobeck and Amanda from the MIA. Here’s a sampling:

  • Can we bring materials and mementos in from home?
  • How does the museum buy art?
  • What one work of art would you save, if there were a natural disaster?
  • Do you have art classes at the museum?

Day of the Dead Teacher Workshop

Last month, approximately thirty K-12 teachers joined MIA staff and volunteers for a Day of the Dead Teacher Workshop at the MIA. Joe D. Horse Capture, Associate Curator of Native American Art and Amanda Thompson Rundahl, Innovation Engineer, introduced the 2011 expansion of “Young People’s Ofrenda: Expressions of Life and Remembrance” to include 4 partner high schools (Austin, Humboldt, Edison, and El Colegio). All four schools will make ofrendas and contribute videos to the blog. Each school will send 15 ofrendas by student artists to the MIA for exhibition November 1 through December 4, 2011.

Sheila McGuire, Manager of Learning Resources then walked educators from partner and non-partner schools through our brand new Young People’s Ofrendas Teacher’s Guide in English and Spanish. She encouraged teachers to adopt it as part of their fall curriculum in art, Spanish, or other subject areas. The workshop wrapped up with guided tours of objects in the MIA’s permanent collection that represent many world cultures and relate to the Teacher’s Guide overarching theme “honoring ancestors.” Docent led tours on this theme can be requested by all teachers by using this form.

As you follow the project via this blog throughout the fall, you’ll hear from Joe, Amanda, Sheila, and our intern Pati Hibbard, as well as from the students and teachers at the four partner high schools.