Marie Watt (Seneca and German-Scots), Blanket Story, Confluence, Heirloom, and Tenth Mountain Division, 2013. Wool and cotton blankets and reclaimed cedar. Native Arts Acquisition Fund, 2013.75.1-158. © Marie Watt

Local Understanding

Marie Watt (Seneca and German-Scots), Blanket Story, Confluence, Heirloom, and Tenth Mountain Division, 2013. Wool and cotton blankets and reclaimed cedar. Native Arts Acquisition Fund, 2013.75.1-158. © Marie Watt

Each of us can play a pivotal role in our community, whether that is our neighborhood, family, friend group, or school. Today, as always, it is important to consider and learn about our local culture, through our communities’ people, places, and history. How are we building local understanding into our lives and learning?

Every community is different, so learning about your unique communities is important. Expanding on your own local understanding is a necessary component of becoming an engaged citizen. Understanding leads to appreciating, connecting, and protecting.

    This bundle of artists, artworks, resources, and activities helps kids explore big questions such as:

    • What is my role in the community?
    • What are some important histories of my community?
    • How do artists play a part in my community?
    • And how do I imagine my community at its best?

    The artists highlighted here show us that this learning can be achieved in many ways. We hope these resources inspire you to learn more about our local culture and histories.

    A diorama triptych featuring cut outs of cacti and the night sky

    Jaime Molina, The Family Garden, 2017. Wood, acrylic paint, hardware.

    Looking Together

    For our youngest learners, we recommend looking around your neighborhood and sharing about sense of place and the role of art in your community. Together, read our book recommendation, Maybe Something Beautiful. Through the pages, discover how art can inspire transformation—and how even the smallest artists can accomplish something big and discuss artful moments in your neighborhood or home.

    This month’s installment of our How to Talk About Art series focuses on local Denver-based artist Jaime Molina’s sculpture from the DAM’s Art Lives Here collection, which has been installed in schools and community centers around Denver. Artists are influenced by the world around them, and can also influence the world around them! Take a look at this unique painted box and have a conversation about what inspires you about our local landscape, and how we can do our part to steward our communities.

    Creating Together

    Get creative at home or in the classroom with these two activities focused on themes of connecting with others in our communities and building empathy.

    Multimedia artist Melanie Yazzie considers the role and importance of having empathy for others, or "walking a mile in someone’s moccasins" in this short video and suggested art activity.

    Artists Marie Watt and Cannupa Hanska Leger invite you to submit art to be exhibited at the DAM! Learn how you can contribute to an artwork in the exhibition by submitting an embroidered bandana by October 31. And then try your hand at this lesson spark, which walks you through step-by-step on how to embroider along with some questions to spark personal and critical conversations while you sew.

    A war shirt made out of found objects like glass beads, velvet, silk plant leaves, rubber figures, color photographs, an Ethernet cord, a SD card, plastic packaging, and an hemp cord.

    Bently Spang, Modern Warrior Series: War Shirt #4 - National Sacrifice, 2010.

    Thinking Together

    In these two lesson sparks, older kids are encouraged to explore ideas of cultural heritage in their communities through a lens of storytelling. Artists Bently Spang and Marie Watt both work within an art practice that collect and assemble stories from their communities that are inspired and supported by objects as well as oral traditions, rituals and traditional preforming arts. Examining how we share cultural heritages can ensure future generations can continue to build on our understanding.

    Check out Modern Warrior Series: War Shirt #4 - National Sacrifice and consider how transmitting cultural knowledge is a critical cornerstone in many cultures. We invite you to connect with others and share some of your own traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation.

    Explore Blanket Story: Confluence, Heirloom, and Tenth Mountain Division and reflect on the significance of your own personal objects in this printable journal entry.

    Related Creativity Resources

    Brightly colored corpse flowers with pink stems and roots
    Thematic Collection

    Adventure through the Pink Universe

    Activities inspired by Simphiwe Ndzube: Oracles of the Pink Universe
    Guide your students and/or children through the Pink Universe in these fun art-related activities inspired by Simphiwe Ndzube: Oracles of the Pink Universe. Activities include and artmaking project and a book recommendation.
    close up image of tags on blankets
    Thematic Collection

    Putting It Together

    Collaborative artmaking has the power to bond people, cultures, and community. With the opening of the Each/Other exhibition, take a closer look at two of Marie Watts' artworks and discover how they are a gateway to collaboration, sharing, and creativity.
    Image of two mannequins dressed in vintage short dresses
    Thematic Collection

    Playing with Pattern

    Visual patterns appear in every aspect of our lives—from the architecture around us to the natural world. Sometimes artists and designers are inspired by existing patterns or create their own to add visual interest to their work. We encourage you to keep an eye out for patterns around you and explore creating your own unique patterns through these activities.
    Girl posing in front of red dinosaur sculpture
    Thematic Collection

    Made in China

    Made in China, a sculpture by artist Sui Jianguo, is a crowd favorite among Denver Art Museum visitors. The giant red dinosaur is loved by so many because of its size, color, and texture. Explore the captivating sculpture more closely with these learning resources and activities that encourage looking, creating, and thinking together about size, where products come from, and how we value toys or belongings.