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Maori Pattern Prints

In my last post I shared my school's tradition of the Foreign Film Festival, as well as information about the movie our eighth graders watched and the follow-up art project.  I want to continue in that vein to share the movie our seventh graders watched as well as the follow-up art project.

The seventh graders watched the movie "Whale Rider".  On the east coast of New Zealand, the people of Whangara believe that their presence dates back over a thousand years.  These Maori people trace their origins to a single ancestor, Paikea, who escaped death by riding to shore on the back of a whale when his canoe collapsed.  From then on, the Wanghara cheif has always been a first-born male.  The cheif's oldest son fathers twins-a boy and a girl-but the boy and his mother die at birth.  The surviving girl is called Pai.  Pai believes that she is destined to be the new chief.  Her grandfather Koro is bound by tradition to pick a male leader, and feels that many of the tribe's problems began when Pai's twin brother died.  Pai seems to possess some special gifts, especially when some whales become stranded on the beach.  Will she overcome her grandfather's prejudice and a thousand years of tradition to fulfill her destiny?

After viewing the movie, I have my students research Maori art and specifically, patterns found in Maori art.  Then the students each choose one quality or trait that is important in their own culture (i.e. strength, wisdom, health, etc.) and, as in Maori tradition, they consider an animal or object found in nature which represents that quality or trait.  Students then develop an original symbol using lines and shapes inspired by their animal or object to represent their important trait.

The symbols are then carved into wood printing plates, similar to the wood carvings found in Maori art, and printed as three color reduction prints.

My students love this project and the results are really beautiful.

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