Teacher's Resources - The Feathered Serpent

The Feathered Serpent sculpture

Photograph by A. Herscovici

The natural environments represented by the CLOTH & CLAY objects range from jungles to deserts to mountains; within such a wide geographic range it is striking how images of certain animals recur in the artworks. There are many versions, for instance, of a mythical creature, a feathered serpent, that combines feline/avian/serpent or avian/serpent attributes. The Aztec god Quetzatcóatl is one version of the feathered serpent. The image on the right shows another feathered serpent, from the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan, as a carved adornment upon an elaborate temple structure.

Classroom Activities and Projects (recommended ages are in italics and are approximate)

1. Grid Designs: 7 -11: Using the textile or the ceramic grid templates, draw your family pet (or a pet you wish for) as a textile woven design or a painting on the inside of a bowl. Using pencil, first draw the animal using the whole grid surface. Then colour it in, square by square; a square has to be all one colour. The textile grid refers directly to the structure of cloth and how it is patterned. A ceramic object's design can be much more fluid, so the purpose of the ceramic (polar) grid is to foster an understanding of designing for a circular surface. The grid's presence also sets up a method for abstracting an image.

8 -14 : Using the border grid, design a border using animal imagery. This border is to go around the hem of a garment or the edge of a bowl. Therefore, design it so that when you join the two ends, the design flows seamlessly.

2. 11 -14: Collage a hybrid animal, or a human/animal, with photos from magazines. Use the grids to create a textile or ceramic design from the collage. Write a story or a poem describing the exploits of the mythical creature.

3. 9 - 15: Research the dragon, an Asian and European mythical beast. Write a comparative analysis of the dragon and the feathered serpent. The analysis can include elements of actual history or it can be based largely on imagination. Illustrate the written work with a picture of a dragon and of a jaguar/bird/serpent.

4. 8 - 11: List the qualities of a particular animal using the following guide, research the animals on the CLOTH & CLAY site, and present your findings to the class. Tell a story about one of the creatures, with a young boy or girl as the other character.

Guide: Creature: natural or hyrbid? Where is it found in Cloth & Clay? What I think it looks like (fierce, cuddly, etc.)? Cloth & Clay description?