Art History

Art History

Cemetery Tour Graveyards and cemeteries are interesting, historical places. Each community has a final resting place of the prominent members of that area, usually accompanied by an equally prominent tomb or headstone. Outside of cemeteries, what is the most elaborate tomb that you can think of in your state? In the United States? What is the role of commemorating the dead in our culture? Does it differ for leaders and dignitaries? What purpose do cemeteries serve beyond sanitation?

2. Reliquary A reliquary is a small shrine which contains the relics, or fragments of clothing, sacred objects or body parts, of an important person, usually a saint. The Reliquary Arm was built to house an arm bone of an unidentified holy person. It seems rather morbid to hold bones or other remnants of body parts, but it seems that most of us keep body parts ourselves, such as baby teeth or locks of hair. What purpose do reliquaries serve in our culture? What about collecting articles from a celebrity? Name some examples and discuss their role in our society.

3. Burial Objects Rulers and prominent people were buried with elaborate objects, such as thousands of clay soldiers, gold jewelry, food, clothes, pets, and so on. For what purpose(s) would the deceased need these objects? What are people buried with today?

4. WTC Memorial There was a call for entries to construct the memorial for the World Trade Center in 2003. Eight designs were selected as finalists, but the Studio of Daniel Libeskind was selected as the winner. Go to the WTC site and view the works of the 8 finalists. Discuss the mood of each. Which work would you have chosen? Why was Libeskind’s design ultimately chosen?

5. Solstice and the Sun Newgrange is a complex burial mound in Ireland. On the morning of the winter solstice, the rays from the sun enter a passage on the roofbox and illuminate the center chamber. The winter solstice has been incorporated into rituals, ceremonies, and practices in many cultures. It’s no coincidence that important religious holidays, such as Christmas and Hanukkah, are celebrated around the time of the solstice, which usually occurs on December 21 or 22. Why is the winter solstice so important in celebrations and rituals? Why was it important for Newgrange to have the winter sun beaming into the center chamber?

6. Dia de los Muertos Diego Rivera depicted the Day of the Dead in his fresco of the same name, Dia de Los Muertos. The Day of the Dead has roots in Mexico and in Latin American countries and is celebrated November 1 and 2 (All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day), mixing Christian and Aztec beliefs. It is a celebratory and festive event, honoring dead ancestors. Look at Rivera’s fresco carefully for details of the celebration. You will see calaveras, or skulls, skeletons, sugar skulls, and skull masks. How does it reflect both Christian and Aztec beleifs? Compare and contrast it to other works in the chapter.

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