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From Field to Studio: The art of Paul Kane - page 21 / 36





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PKI Teaching Guide

Page 21 of 36

This interactive feature presents an opportunity to compare and contrast how it would seem Paul Kane and George Catlin approached their ambitious projects.

Classroom Activities:

  • 1.

    Ask students to read and compare the artist statements by George Catlin and Paul Kane. Engage students in a formal or informal debate about the artistic motivations of George Catlin and Paul Kane, including commentary on whether or not, or to what extent, these artists appropriated images in their work.

  • 2.

    George Catlin was concerned about the welfare of First Nations people in North America.

Research the conditions he found people to be in the 1830’s. Compare these conditions to those of today.


Discuss the term ‘appropriation’ and its related issues. Definition: to take or make use

of without authority.


Encourage students to examine the term ‘appropriation’ as it relates to visual art. In the

context of art history, ‘appropriation’ refers to the borrowing of images or concepts from the surrounding world and re-interpreting them into another artwork. Help students to realize that many artists today work with appropriated images from multi-media, found materials, other art

works, film, advertisements, and popular culture. These artists’ creative process involves using existing source materials and transforming them to create new meaning. This practice is seen by many as a positive contribution to the further development of contemporary art. Ask students to locate examples of art works that include images appropriated from popular culture.

Discuss the following topic with students. In the context of First Nations or Métis art works, appropriation of traditional images that have cultural and/or spiritual significance must be examined from a knowledgeable perspective. Some writers, for example, believe that artists such as Emily Carr engaged in the cultural appropriation of First Nations images such as totem poles. Teachers should caution students to avoid the appropriation of First Nations imagery within their own art works. Teachers and students should become familiar with usage protocols, such as the use of traditional images, songs, or stories that may be hereditary property, when creating art works influenced by First Nations and/or Métis imagery.


Ask students to conduct an Internet search to research various perspectives on the

topic of appropriation in visual art, including the perspectives of First Nations and/or Métis artists. Guide students to understand that many contemporary First Nations artists are concerned with taking back control of representations of their various cultures. Ensure that students understand that cultural appropriation also includes the taking of cultural artifacts

  • (e.

    g., Greek statues displayed in British or North American museums).

    • 6.

      Have students consider causes that they believe in and then have them create their

own mission statements.

From Field to Studio: The art of Paul Kane

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