BISKAKONE GREG JOHNSON: WHAT MAKES A PLACE HOME?
In this lesson students explore the theme of Home while learning about the life and work of Ojibwe artist Biskakone Greg Johnson. The artist lives with his partner, artist Anungo Kwe Alexandria Sulainis, and their children, in Lac Du Flambeau, Wisconsin, the land that was home to many generations of his ancestors. The students discover that the artist’s idea of home relates to the places where he and his people live and continue the day-to-day traditions that have been passed down through the years. Johnson continues many of the craft traditions of his Ojibwe culture, including beading, weaving, moccasin making, and the techniques and process of birch bark etching. He creates and embellishes baskets and containers made from the local tree bark, repeating images that represent the natural world. After making connections with their own ideas about home, students list the places, special times, people, and ideas that help define home for them. They are asked to consider symbols or images that might represent their associations with the theme. Borrowing from the Ojibwe tradition of birch bark etching, students create India ink or crayon etchings, using imagery to suggest their own associations with the idea of Home.
Estimated Time: Seven 45-minute class periods
Grade Level: 7–12
Craft In America Theme/Episode: HOME
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