Create an Abstract Dreamscape
In this activity, you will create an art piece inspired by the work of Bernice Bing.
Objective: Students will: 1.) examine the Hindu tradition of threshold art; 2.) discuss how Indian values are expressed in the ephemeral art of threshold painting; 3.) draw traditional connect-the-dots threshold art designs; 4.) make colored rice flour and create an auspicious floor painting
Rice flour (denser than wheat flour; sold at Indian food markets), food dye, zip lock bags, cups, large sheets of brown butcher paper, water; Map of India (see above); Artworks: photos of Indian threshold floor and wall paintings (see suggested resources below); Worksheets: Threshold Art: Connect the Dot Designs and Template of Dots: Four Points Forming a Rhomboid; Video: Rangoli
Throughout the subcontinent of India, women of all ages, castes, and professions, perform the traditional art of threshold painting. It is known as muggu in Andhra Pradesh; rangoli in Maharashtra and Gujarat; chowk purana in Uttar Pradesh; mandana in Rajasthan; alpana in Bengal; chita in Orissa; and kolam in Tamil Nadu. Although the styles of design and frequency with which it is painted vary from region to region, the symbolic meaning of this art form is the same: it links Hindu women to the goddess Lakshmi whom they invite to depart her heavenly abode and rest momentarily at their thresholds upon an intricate rice flour diagram. In this manner, the Goddess brings good fortune, enveloping the home in an auspicious sphere of protection.
In a variety of ways, threshold art reflects the Hindu concept of the interconnectedness of the universe. This is symbolized even in the use of rice flour as an artistic medium. It is said that the kolam is the “feeder of a thousand souls” providing nourishment to the smallest of insects throughout the day. Also central to Hinduism is the experiential act of devotion. The painting of a kolam is correspondingly devotional. It is an act of creation, in which ones personal relationship with the gods is most important. For in a fleeting moment the creation will disappear, vividly remaining only in the memory of the one who created it.
Drawing Rangoli Design
Making Rangoli Colored Flour
Interactive Kolam: www.i-kolam.com
Kolam, in website on Dr. Gift Siromoney: www.cmi.ac.in/gift/Kolam.htm
Archana, The Language of Symbols: A Project on South Indian Ritual Decorations of a Semi-Permanent Nature. India: Crafts Council of India, 1980.
Eck, Diana. Banaras. City of Light. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.
Huyler, Stephen P., Painted Prayers: Women’s Art in Village India. New York: Rizzoli, 1994.
Mahapatra, Padmavati. Chita. Orissa: Gyanajuga Publications,1999.
Nagarajan, Vijaya Rettakudi. Hosting the Divine: The Kolam as Ritual, Art, and Ecology in Tamil Nadu, India. Manuscript UCB, 1998.
Saxena, Jogendra. Mandana, the Folk Art of Rajasthan.