Recognizing and forming patterns through the topic of Latin Art this week was a challenge as I was considering what the true definition of patterning means. To me, patterning is the development of similar ideas or guidelines in a specific construct, based on previously created schemas or biases. According to Robert and Michèle Root-Bernstein’s “Sparks of Genius: The 13 Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People,” a pattern is “…a repetitive form or plan,” and that to “…perceive a pattern means that we have already formed an idea of what’s next,” (Root-Bernstein, 1999. p. 92).
Prior to this class, recognizing patterns within Latin art was not an element (or “spark,”) that I focused much on with my students when finding connections (or discussing) pieces of artwork. Because Latin Art is a sizeable topic, I can say that finding a patterns within this topic can be quite the feat to conquer. Previously to this course, I have introduced my students to some Andean traditional art (specifically art created by Indigenous people of Ecuador, Peru or Chile) and show them the intricacies and elaborate color schemes of these pieces. I’d have students point out things that they recognized in the work and then we’d talk about them as a group and eventually I’d give my students an opportunity to create their own similar art but in drawing form. Students usually point out the pattern formations that they noticed – both in color and in shape. For example, in the following Peruvian woven textile, here is a dualistic pattern of two serpents:
In the above piece, students would point out the double pattern on each side (both top and bottom, as well as side to side), which is specific to dualistic art.
Or here’s a Peruvian Wari Tunic, again showing us a continual pattern both in color and geometric shape:
I think there is a point in discussing Andean art in the class, because it allows students to see the consistency of pattern creation across a traditional culture in South America. When my students get that opportunity to create their own (or mimic) traditional Andean art, they enjoy the simplicity of setting up a very visible pattern and then providing a pattern of color in it as well.
Although I show my students traditional art, I personally find more modern Latin art to be more entertaining and interesting for the fact that it is more communicative and represents something much larger than the paintings/drawings themselves. It communicates to the viewer information about the time period of when it was created and also emotes the feelings and sentiments of the artist and/or the Latin people portrayed in the art.
As I was thinking about finding and forming patterns in this module and doing my research on modern Latin art work, I noticed a recurring theme or rather a pattern for viewers to be able to feel and understand the human struggle during the 20th and 21st centuries for Latinos. This same pattern continues to present day Latin art, which even rolls over to Mexican-American (or Chicano) artists today who portray the modern day struggle through their art work (including graffiti murals and paintings).
The pattern of portraying human struggle in latin art isn’t as obvious as the patterns in color and shapes, like that of the Andean traditional art. In fact, it wasn’t until I was doing research on different Latin artists that I came across this pattern. I noticed that many pieces of art were portraits of people using darker-toned colors (blacks, browns, deep reds, navy, etc.) and showed a story.
Tasking my students to identify patterns, I would show them something like this ThingLink I created with different pieces of Latin artwork:
With my students, I would keep this pattern of the human struggle in the back of my mind, but I wouldn’t mention it to them at first. I would show them different pieces of Latin art (by different artists) and ask them to describe what they see in each painting. From there, I would task them to get in small groups and use their senses to first perceive (use all of their senses) the painting and write that down. Then I’d ask for them to find a pattern – I’d ask them:
- What similarities do you see in each of these paintings?
- What differences do you see in each of these paintings?
- Is there a notable pattern that you have found?
- Do you see any emotional connection to these paintings?
After working in small groups, we would get together as a large group and discuss the recognizable patterns that are easier to find (such as color similarities), and then through that discussion, I’d hope eventually someone would turn out a response about the human struggle pattern. If not, I would allude to it or ask probing questions to get to that response. From there, I’d give my students an opportunity to relook at those paintings and see if they can find that pattern and denote what elements clue into the pattern of human struggle; what colors, what expressions, what shapes or what images within entire painting as a whole allude to that pattern? This way they can not only interact on a deeper level with the painting but also grasp a historical perspective of Latinos at the time in which those paintings were created.
Root-Bernstein, R. S., & Root-Bernstein, M. (1999). Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.