Ancient Art Forms
Objective: Compare and contrast the use of form in the depiction of humans and animals in rock art media.
Background: Native American artists used a variety of forms, including full-body, outline, and stick-figure, to depict humans and animals in rock art imagery. Can you identify any connections between the use of specific forms and the application of different techniques of rock art manufacture?
Activity: Use the Search screen to retrieve examples of full-body, outline, and stick-figure images of people and animals. You will probably want to begin by selecting Rock Art Category = Prehistoric Native American and General Motif = Anthropomorph and then Zoomorph. What variations in the use of form can you identify in your search results? Now do another search in which you examine the petroglyph and pictograph methods used to produce the images you retrieved. Can you identify any connections between the use of specific forms and the methods by which the images were produced? Can you think of any other reasons why ancient artists might choose to emphasize one form instead of another?
Additional Exercise: Go to a library and find one or more illustrated books on Native American art (see bibliography section for suggested references). What variations in the use of form can you identify in artworks representing different types of media (e.g., pottery, painting, weaving, etc.)? Can you identify any additional connections between the use of form and the methods used to produce that media?
Contributed by: George Sabo III, Arkansas Archeological Survey