1492 – 1734 Early Encounters Supplemental Materials

Art Activities

Vermeer’s Portrait of Wealth and Trade

The trade empire created by the Dutch Republic in the 1600s was far-reaching and lucrative, and women were involved in every phase: as traders, manufacturers, consumers, and more (see Life Story of Johanna de Laet). Johannes Vermeer captures this in his painting Young Woman with a Water Pitcher. Four hundred years later, global trade is still essential to the success of many national economies, including that of the United States. Imported products are prevalent in most American homes and reflect our reliance on goods from abroad. Now, as then, many women are actively engaged in global trade.

In this activity, students will imagine they are twenty-first-century artists who are commissioned to create a portrait of wealth and trade for the United States. Students must first conduct research to determine popular items imported to the United States and where they originate. Then, using their findings, students will create an interior space similar to Vermeer’s to showcase these items and how they impact their everyday lives.

To read and download the lesson plan for this art activity, click here.

Adventuring for Art and Science

Maria Sibylla Merian‘s fascination with the plants and animals found in her childhood backyard provided a foundation for her future scientific career. She intended her books to be used as educational tools from which scientists and scholars could learn and study, and therefore her published illustrations needed to be accurate, clear, and easy to read. Maria used her artistic prowess to accomplish this, as is evident in Plate 11, Metamorphosis insectorum surinamensium.

Students will embody the role of environmental scientist by finding, recording, and sketching flora and fauna in their own communities. Then, inspired by the Maria’s artwork, students will create a well-composed watercolor illustration that showcases their discoveries.

To read and download the lesson plan for this art activity, click here.

Revolution in Art

Ceramics is a long-standing and important art form to the Pueblo and Hopi nations that dates back to the fifteenth century. Pottery is a useful tool that allowed for more efficient cooking and storage, and thus its production has traditionally been a woman’s job. Pots vary in size and shape, and painted designs are diverse, having evolved over time because of changing cultural influences. Today, ceramics continues to be a vibrant form of artistic expression practiced by these nations.

Students will create their own clay pots using the coil-construction method. By doing so, they will explore the authentic artistic process used to make Pueblo pottery and discover the skills needed to successfully produce a pot that is both functional and aesthetic.

To read and download the lesson plan for t