Rainbow serpent, aboriginal Australia.
Read the myth of the Rainbow Serpent to your students, found at www.astronomy.pomona.edu/archeo/australia/jennifer.sumner.aborigines/ MYTH1.HTM. After the reading, ask students to recall elements of the story and some of the animals and elements of nature identified in the myth (snake, frogs, rivers, lakes, mountains).
Explain to students that the artist used dots and lines to create the forms they see in the Art Print. Point out that the concentric circles behind the snakes, represent watering holes. Ask students to think of simple symbols to represent elements of the story (a zigzag line for mountains, a leaf for trees or plants, and so on).
After the group has created a selection of symbols, give students drawing paper and time to create a work of art featuring the Rainbow Serpent and incorporating some of the symbols generated by the class.
Read the myth of the Rainbow Serpent to your students, found at www.astronomy.pomona.edu/archeo/australia/jennifer.sumner.aborigines/ MYTH1.HTM. Point out that the artist used small dots to create the composition, as well as colors to signify aspects of the land (blue for water; earth tones for sand, soil, rock).
Place students into pairs. Challenge each pair to design an original Rainbow Serpent art work that depicts one element of the myth. After students have decided on a composition, direct them to lay in color using the dotting technique seen in the Art Print. Give students time to present their work to the class. Display all finished work alongside the Art Print.
Share the Art Print with students, explaining that the work depicts an important myth in the Australian Aboriginal culture. Inform students that although much of the painting utilizes what they might describe as abstraction, the artist is incorporating traditional symbols to represent ideas, places, or meanings. For example, the concentric circles represent watering holes or lakes.
Allow students time online to research common pictography in Australian Aboriginal art. Or you can post the following page in the class for student reference: www.aboriginalartonline.com/culture/symbols.php
Give students time to create a work of art inspired by the Art Print, using only symbols to create meaning. After students have completed a design in pencil, have them lay in bright color, keeping in mind that color is also used as a symbolic element in Australian Aboriginal painting.
Share the Art Print with students and read the Rainbow Serpent myth found at: www.astronomy.pomona.edu/archeo/australia/jennifer.sumner.aborigines/ MYTH1.HTM.
Next, follow the activity instructions outlined in the middle-school section above, but instead of having students create a work on paper, have them work in teams to story-board and create a short, computer-generated animated film telling the version of the Rainbow Serpent story found on the above Web page.
Before students begin storyboarding their film, screen the following example: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCuuRRrfOXo. Be sure to inform students that the film depicts another version of the myth, which accounts for the difference from the version you read aloud to them.