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King School

An independent day school educating students PreK-Grade 12

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Exploring Identity Through Global Art

A months-long study of the geometry found in different cultures sparked brilliant artwork by second grade students, which they recently presented in the Lower School. Inspired by geometric paintings commonly found in the homes of the South African Ndebele people, horizontal patterns common in Ghanaian kente cloth, and symmetrical motifs found in Islamic mosaics, the students produced original pieces infused with colors, patterns, and shapes.

The unit began in October when the students started studying geometry. Grade 2 teachers Aman Samra and Emily Decker introduced the book “Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes” by Roseanne Thong. It prompted students to think about where they see shapes in their own lives and consider how shapes convey meaning and tell stories worldwide.

The class explored Ndebele homes in South Africa using photos, videos, and articles. They used what they learned to create a model of one of the homes. 

They also studied Ghana, learning about Kente-cloth weaving techniques, which they practiced using paper. The students were familiar with Ghana, having been introduced to Ghanaian culture on winter break when they studied the artist Ebenezer Akakpo who hails from the West African country. 

Decker arranged for Akakpo to join the class via Zoom and discuss how he infuses his art with Adinkra symbols, commonly found in fabrics and artwork of Ghana. Akakapo explained his process, shared his jewelry designs, and invited students to ask questions. Students used their newfound knowledge to decorate their paper weavings with their own symbols.

The unit concluded with a study of Islamic mosaics. After examining the intricate works, students sketched their own floral or circular designs using symmetrical lines. Using the sketches as tiles, students mapped their placement on a canvas board before gluing them into place. The result was beautiful, vibrant mosaics that echoed the Islamic style.