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Unity Examined Through Art: From the Sahara Desert to Islam

A Group Project Abroad (GPA) by Sylvia A. Bell

Topic: Unity examined through art: from the Sahara Desert to Islam

Subject: Art

Duration of unit: 10 to 15 days

Grade Level: 7th

Rationale: Morocco is a rich and vibrant country and its diverse people are an example of how diversity can serve to enliven and enrich any culture through unity. In the USA we make many assumptions as to what to expect from the African continent, and we generalize asto who the people are and what their culture entails. We lose perspective and are taught and pass on these misconceptions onto our students. However, all is not lost, we teachers are avid learners and thirst for knowledge and in our quest, we have been enriched by our experience in Morocco, and I would like to pass on what I have learned first hand onto my students. Therefore, this unit will begin with a study of the harsh conditions of the Sahara Desert and yet its endless beauty. With each tiny grain of sand, the Sahara desert encompasses warm hues that ultimately leave you breathless.

The students will examine the colors, lines, space, textures, and shapes of the Sahara Desert, as well as the movement of the dunes. Moreover, it will address the versatility of the camel, and how it was instrumental in transporting goods and people across the Sahara Desert in caravans. Also, the oasis was vital in providing food, water, and shelter for those on the long treks through the desert. The vegetation will be examined to that we may see and the similarities and differences in what was eaten then and whatwe eat here now. Furthermore, the unit will touch upon the guides of the desert, the Amazigh (Berbers) and how these guides work together with the Arabs to assist in the expansion of the Islamic Empire through N. Africa, namely Morocco. As a result, the beautiful art that is evident throughout Morocco whether it’s the garb, rugs, or the intricate zellij that grace the Mosque walls is a feast for the eyes and proof that unity does create something beautiful within the human spirit.

Lesson Objective: The students will analyze the information they are given and create their own Saharan desert scene which will include at least two camels, the sand dunes, and the sky utilizing watercolor techniques learned and to demonstrate their knowledge of elements, such as color, line, space, shape and texture, and the principle of movement. Next, they will create an Oasis incorporating the same watercolor techniques; however, they will add the use of crayon to demonstrate their knowledge of an oasis and its value for the nomads, tribes, and caravans.

Download File: FullModuleSylvia.pdf

African Studies Center