I spent a lot of time last night organizing my notes and links on Huichol Indian art. It took a lot of time, because of course I got distracted by other fascinating lesson plans and resources on the internet while I was searching for the links and site to use in my post!
I think that there is a lot of potential for using Mexican culture and art to teach Language Arts – not only to ELLs but to mainstream classes (many of which are populated by Latino students…). But, hey – you don’t have to be Latino to be fascinated by other cultures and interested in art and imagination. Gosh, I hope not, anyway!
As I was going through my files, the first thing that caught my attention was the excellent set of lesson plans created by Target and Scholastic Magazine in cooperation with the National Museum of Mexican Art. It is called “Dream in Color” and is an amazing resource for teachers. There you will find samples of art, a map of Huichol country, a history of the Huichol people, and a three page reference chart of Huichol symbolism. Outstanding!
I am not going to go into a lot of detail of who the Huichol Indians are, because these resources explain it all. They live in the hills throughout northwestern Mexico. You may have seen yarn paintings and beaded masks and bowls made by them. They are also the people who brought us ojos de dios (God’s Eyes) – a staple of elementary school crafts programs. You may have also heard that they consume peyote, a psychedelic cactus, but I think that this can be downplayed and should NOT be a reason to avoid teaching about this culture.
First, here are links to basic lesson plans on Huichol Yarn and Bead Painting. (Dick Blick has many lesson plans to choose from and they are available directly on their site, or in PDF format.)
- Basic Yarn Painting (URL: http://www.dickblick.com/multicultural/huichol/ or PDF document.
- Yarn Bottles – a nice variation on yarn painting
- Bead Bottles – I didn’t see any bead bowls or masks, but I bet you could make those, too.
- Neat yarn painting project with template of a bird and border.
- Project for 4-H
- Make Your Own Huichol Bead Art – from TIDES (an Eastern Texas Lesson Plan interactive site – great videos and everything needed for all sorts of lessons.
Here are some links with general information on the Huichol Indians and their history and culture.
- List of Resource links by MexConnect.com
- From the Hearst Museum – PDF of Mexican folk art including a piece about the Huichol
- From Wisconsin school district site – more basic info
- Huichol Symbolism – piece by Angela Corelis for MexConnect
- Huichol Symbols Reference Chart – a must-have, with pictures and explanations for kids (from Scholastic).
- Crizmac – I was a little bit disappointed in this art supply site – they used to have a cute periodic newsletter on multicultural art, but I cannot find it on their site. Go to this link and see my copy. They do have lesson plans and materials to sell, including this set of Huichol Symbol Magnets.
- Interactive Yarn Painting – Neat – students can click on parts of the painting and an explanation box pops up.
- Yarn masks using modeling clay from Crayola.com.
- Possibly interesting article from Science News for Kids about an initiative to bring solar light sources to the Huichol – includes lesson plan about solar panels, I think.
Here are some online photo galleries of Huichol Art – awesome examples!
- From MexConnect.com – Painting images of a vanishing culture
- Latin American Folk Art.com – click on the thumbnails: some include Huichol narratives of the paintings
- Indigo Arts Gallery
- Huichol Art.biz
- Tribes Gallery
- Folk Art Traditions site
In case you were not aware – most Huichol yarn paintings tell a story. While it is possible that some of these visions were induces by peyote, it is also valid that these could also be depictions of dreams and tribal stories. Whenever you purchase a large enough yarn painting, the narrative by the artist is usually attached to the back.
Artes de Mexico is a periodical published in Mexico with beautiful illustrations – the issue on Huichol Art is definitely worth having – I bought mine in Morelia for only $18 and they are sometimes offered on E-Bay. Here is a link to one you can buy on Amazon.com for $30.
Here is a list of children’s books – ,many are illustrated with Huichol Art:
- Watakame’s Journey: The Story of the Great Flood and the New World by Hallie N. Love and Bonnie Larson
- The Journey of Tunuri and the Blue Deer: A Huichol Indian Story by James Endredy
- When Animals Were People/Cuando Los Animales Eran Personas: A Huichol Indian Tale/Un Cuento Huichol by Bonnie Larson (out of print)
- The Tree That Rains: The Flood Myth of the Huichol Indians of Mexico by Emery Bernhard (author) and Durga Bernhard (Illustrator)
- So Sings the Blue Deer by Charmayne McGee – longer fiction for grades 5 thru 7
- Spanish – El zopilote y la chirimía por Gabriela Olmos ilustraciones de Valeria Gallo (The Buzzard and the Clarinet – rough translation of title)
Finally, a word about design – the Mexican designer team of Pineda-Covalin have included Huichol Art in their length line of fabric and clothing. You will need to go to the site, and look at the flash catalog. Awesome!