Wampanoag Clay Pot Project

BY Nancy Danielson 

Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School

Project Description

The MVPCS Clay Pot Project will start with an introduction to Wampanoag and Native American pottery techniques and traditions. Children will explore the difference between decorative and applied arts and the role they play in Native-American societies. Through pictures, videos and demonstrations, children will observe traditional techniques of hand-building pottery and will gain awareness of the variety of shapes, sizes and decorative, geometric elements of traditional Wampanoag pottery. Next, students will be given paper and drawing materials to sketch out their pottery designs. Starting with a sketch and moving slowly to a detailed, 2-dimensional representation of their clay pot design will be the goal of this step in the process. After that, it will be time for the students to get their hands into some clay. They will choose from different methods of hand building pottery. They will be mindful of their plans but may have to tweak them a bit at times for the sake of a successful and aesthetic finished piece. The clay pots will be unique to each individual student. MVPCS art students will share their creations with the community as part of an art show exhibition during the MVPCS Annual Meeting in the spring.

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)

I will gauge the success of this project at every step along the way, by the level of engagement and persistence I observe in my students. I will also be evaluating success on the student’s ability to develop craft, express themselves as artists, problem solve, stretch, explore and reflect. Reflection is especially important both in terms of spoken word (relevant comments and conversations with and amongst students) and written reflections. It is especially important to me that my students come away with an understanding of the beauty of Wampanoag craft and artistry and what that says about Wampanoag culture, both traditional and modern. Finally, I will evaluate the level of finished, aesthetic beauty, artistry, and attention to detail in individual pieces. However, when all is said and done, student interest, engagement, perseverance, and effort are the biggest determiners of project success.

Benefit to the students and the school

The Wampanoag Pottery Project will benefit the MVPCS community because of the shared experience across grade levels and because of the exhibition and information presented therein. The hope is that this project will encourage and inspire further dialogue about the importance of fine and applied art in society and what the arts can convey about a people.

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)

The hope is that this project will begin in late March and be complete and ready for exhibition by late April.