James Cordova at work in his studio

Invisible Artists

James Cordova at work in his studio

James Córdova

As an art historian, James Córdova studies art created during colonialism in the Americas. He explains his fascination with cultural mixing in art and his desire to bring the contributions by indigenous artists to the public eye.

As destructive and horrible the conquest was for many indigenous groups, they survived. And more than survived, they helped create a brand new way of thinking about the world that has been invisible to modern viewers for such a long time. So I wanted to call attention to those indigenous contributions and show how they blended with European ways of thinking and European systems of knowledge and how those kinds of cultural mixes still matter for us today.

— James Córdova

Guiding Questions:

  • How can students explore art created during times of colonialism?
  • How can you encourage students to critically analyze the art and find different cultural influences?

Tip: Choose a few different art objects from the same geographic location and have students discuss the changes over time and what cultural influences appear.

Related Creative Activities

Lesson Plan

Web Map of Understanding

Students will critically examine and discuss the Vase with Palace Scene and use clues they find about the object, as well as researched information, to create web maps that show their findings. Student will gain an appreciation for the importance of chocolate in Maya society.

Lesson Plan

Sparking Imagination

Students will examine the artistic characteristics of the sculpture Spiritual Messenger, learn about the biogeographical journey of the artist, and write a creative short story that incorporates the sculpture.

Lesson Plan

Blending Observation and Imagination

Students will learn about the importance of flowers in the Netherlands during the mid-to-late 1600s. They will then explore how Oosterwyck manipulates time in her painting Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase. The lesson will culminate with students writing a poem that reflects these concepts.

Lesson Plan

Writing an Idyll Poem

Students will examine the artistic characteristics of Childhood Idyll, explain the characteristics of an idyll poem, and create an idyll poem inspired by Childhood Idyll or a familiar place.

Lesson Plan

Weaving Words

Students will look at the Bird and Cornstalk Rug in pairs and discuss Yellowhair’s inspiration from both natural and man-made forms. They will then engage in a creative writing exercise that develops their awareness of symbolism in their daily lives.

Lesson Plan

Living for the City

Students will explore how painter Claude Monet and poet E.E. Cummings used different artistic mediums to highlight the contrasts found in a city. They will then explore various literary devices and compose a poem in the style of Cummings.