Broadening Cultural Relevance in an Art Curriculum

Dr Lydia Sharman
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This paper describes a program developed for the art curriculum on the geometry and symbolism of pattern from diverse cultures, for example the rose windows in cathedrals and Moroccan zillij mosaics. The program introduces a new area of literacy in the arts, and can provide an opportunity for intercultural dialogue by introducing different cultural and artistic traditions. It can help students to enlarge their own cultural identity while learning to appreciate the heritage of other cultures. Through projects in the construction and geometry of pattern, the program introduces students to a set of visual, aesthetic and haptic skills, not usually included in the art curriculum. The application of this program has demonstrated that a unique aspect of a student’s expressive capability and learning can be realized and evaluated through this program.

In the West, art education has been largely concerned with figurative concepts in art with little consideration given to the construction and significance of pattern and ornament, an art form practiced in many cultures. Today's classrooms in large Western cities have students whose cultural origins have rich traditions in non-figurative art. For example the inner city of Leicester in England is 90% Muslim, representing a culture with a very sophisticated tradition of geometric pattern design and calligraphy that is valued in preference to figurative art. The program presented in this paper has been developed to incorporate a study of these traditions into the art curriculum.

Keywords: Symbolism, Pattern and Ornament, Different Cultures
Stream: Constructing Art Worlds
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr Lydia Sharman

Professor Emeritus, Department of Design and Computation Arts, Concordia University

Lydia Sharman is the author of, Teaching Math through Islamic Art, for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England, and The Amazing Book of Shapes, published by Dorling Kindersley, that has sold over 76,000 copies and been translated into five languages. She has given workshops for teachers and students on these publications in the V&A Museum, The Commonwealth Institute, and in schools in the U.K. and Canada. She has also taught art in Jamaica, and co-founded and taught at FACE (School of Fine Arts Education) in Montreal. She has her doctorate in Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts from the Royal College of Art in London, England. Lydia Sharman has practiced as a professional designer in London, New York and Montreal, and is currently a Professor Emeritus at Concordia University, Montreal where she has taught for the last fourteen years in the Department of Design and Computation Arts (previously Design Art).

Ref: A06P0073