Reflections of North American Culture

Compilation of Images

Tina Modotti, Miguel Covarrubias
The Winnipeg Art Gallery; Canadian Museum of Civilization, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Instito Nacional de Bellas Artes, Smithsonian American Art Museum

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved


North American waterways are important geographical features of the land, serving as routes for commercial and military transportation and as an energy source. Places for rest and recreation, sources of food and income, and integral to a communion with nature, waterways also serve as a reflection of everyday life. As with other natural resources, human perspectives on water resource use vary. Look at the images presented below. Do the artists signal their perspective on the uses depicted?

These images reflect different moments in Méxican culture. In 1923, Tina Modotti visited the interior of the Méxican Republic to encounter its cultural roots. She captures daily life of the Tehuanas, chatting, bathing, and washing clothes. Thirty years later, Covarrubias presents an ironic portrayal of a society that has turned the culture into tourism.
North American waterways are important geographical features of the land, serving as routes for commercial and military transportation and as an energy source. Places for rest and recreation, sources of food and income, and integral to a communion with nature, waterways also serve as a reflection of everyday life. As with other natural resources, human perspectives on water resource use vary. Look at the images presented below. Do the artists signal their perspective on the uses depicted?

These images reflect different moments in Méxican culture. In 1923, Tina Modotti visited the interior of the Méxican Republic to encounter its cultural roots. She captures daily life of the Tehuanas, chatting, bathing, and washing clothes. Thirty years later, Covarrubias presents an ironic portrayal of a society that has turned the culture into tourism.

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved

Tehuanas en el río

Tina Modotti arrived in Mexico in 1923, at the high point of activity in the plastic arts movement in Mexico City. Diego Rivera had begun to paint the murals at the Ministry of Public Education, and the motif of the Tehuantepec women as a reappropriation of the essence of Mexico was a general topic of conversation. A few blocks away from the Ministry, at the National Preparatory School, 6 muralists were in the process of converting the building into an art laboratory. Modotti had become an enthusiastic disciple of Edward Weston. When he left, she remained in Mexico, where new social trends led her away from studio photography.

Tina Modotti (1896 - 1942)
Museo Nacional de Arte. INBA. CONACULTA
1929
MEXICO
photograph
26.90 X 35.00 cm
© Museo Nacional de Arte. INBA. CONACULTA


Una tarde en Xochimilco

The desolate canals of Xochimilco now reflect a new Mexico painted in Miguel Covarrubias' mural: their waters are more crowded with people, not local inhabitants, but rather groups of domestic and foreign tourists. In Una tarde en Xochimilco, Covarrubias successfully gives a humorous portrait of the people going on the outing and at the same time returns to the festive, anecdotal and descriptive character of the manners and customs genre of the 19th century.

Miguel Covarrubias (1904 - 1957)
Hotel Ritz, Mexico City
1947
MEXICO
mural
© Hotel Ritz


Is there a waterfront near you? How should it be used? Create a piece of art that reflects your perspective on a waterfront that has some importance to you personally. Ask your classmates to view your work and determine what they think your perspective is. Are they correct?
Does the perspective of the viewer of a piece of art work reflect the perspective of the artist or their own frame of reference?
  1. Is there a waterfront near you? How should it be used?
  2. Create a piece of art that reflects your perspective on a waterfront that has some importance to you personally. Ask your classmates to view your work and determine what they think your perspective is. Are they correct?
  3. Does the perspective of the viewer of a piece of art work reflect the perspective of the artist or their own frame of reference?

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved

Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Describe some of the varied interactions between society and waterways
  • Appreciate how artists communicate their perspective through their work
  • Understand that an artist’s and a viewer’s perspective influence the interpretation of art
  • Formulate personal opinions regarding the use of water resources
  • Consider how art is relevant to issues pertaining to humanity, such as the environment

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