When considering ways to engage and expose children to Aboriginal art there are two main ways that I like to explore.
I use children’s interests as a vehicle for learning and way in. Instead of tacking on Aboriginal art as if it is a topic, theme or interest I instead focus on what children are genuinely interested in and investigate Aboriginal art pieces that add value, insight into culture and scaffold children’s understanding further.
For example, when children were interested in transport I utilised the illustrations in Debbie Coombs book “On the Way to the Footy”. I later found out that this was also available on various textiles and I used these as provocations to encourage children’s creativity in the art studio.
Tip: I find using textiles is a way that we can make art tactile and functional across multiple early learning environments. Tea towels and coasters that feature Aboriginal art are great materials to use in heuristic play.
The second way that I encourage educators to explore the inclusion of Aboriginal art in their program is by focusing specifically on an art element such as; line, shape, colour or texture. One then needs to consider an art style that would best suit the unpacking of this element further.
For example, if you were exploring shapes you may wish to engage children in a variety of construction experiences. One may wish to expose children to the Tjanpi Desert Weavers Creations through their website or through the text “Songlines” that showcases several peices.
Educators can source a variety of natural and recycled materials and encourage children to create and construct with these.
Tip: When selecting an art style think outside of the box. Aboriginal art extends well beyond dot and bark painting. Today Aboriginal artists dabble and create all different styles of art.
View this short video of how Explore & Develop Annandale used Aboriginal art to inspire a year long investigation into weaving.