Lesson Overview

Modes of Knowing, Means
of Showing: Narrative
Iconography in Ancient and
Modern Times
Lesson/Unit Goal: Help students explore,
comprehend, and demonstrate how
visual/graphic/iconographic information not
only forms, informs, and surrounds them
today --- definitely more than any other
medium of communication --- but also how
crucial visual narratives were to the formation
and transformation of the Mixtec and Mexica
civilizations before, throughout, and following
the invasion of the Spanish imperial (military
and religious) forces.
Essential Questions:
*Who had/has the power to generate, control, manage
visual/iconographic modes of expression and
*What are the functional, aesthetic differences
between the more “personal” (local, limited-range)
modes/methods of visual expression and the more
“social” (official, farther-reaching) modes of visual
expression? How can we differentiate them?
*How do personal/local/primary-source visual
narratives gain “official” or “historical” status?
*Who decides which primary-source/personal
narratives endure over time, and which to discard,
destroy, or dishonor?
Types of visual/iconographic communication (herein):
Mixtec, Mexica civilizations’ codices (pre/post Spanish
invasion); religious/Roman Catholic paintings; graffiti
(”tags,””throw-ups,””pieces”); street art
(“paste-ups,” paper stickers, stencils); advertising icons.
Commonality: all were/are generated to form,
communicate, reinforce (mostly) non-alphabetic
ideas/messages/narratives to mass (limited?) public
audience in accessible, common (illegal?) spaces.
Historical/Theoretical Foundation:“In the
beginning colonialism was a product of a
systemic repression [that] fell, above all, over
the modes of knowing, of producing
knowledge, of producing perspectives, images
and systems of images, symbols, [and] modes
of signification […]. It was followed by the
imposition of the use of the rulers’ own
patterns of expression, and of their beliefs and
images with reference to the supernatural.
“These beliefs and images served not only to
impede the cultural production of the
dominated, but also as a very efficient means
of social and cultural control, when the
immediate [physical, tangible, military-based]
repression ceased to be constant and
systematic.” --- AníbalQuijano, Coloniality and
***How did external/physical/military methods
of domination become
internal/psychological/spiritual methods of
control and repression after the early phases
of the Spanish invasion?
Mixtec wall paintings at Mitla
Mixtec codex detail of human
exchange/dialogue?, Biblioteca de Santo
Mixtec codex detail of ruler hierarchy/royal
lineage?, Biblioteca de Santo Domingo
Mixtec geographic codex detail, Biblioteca de
Santo Domingo
Colonial-era Roman Catholic evangelization
image, S. Miguel Tequixtepec
Colonial-era hummingbird image, Ex-Convento
friar/nun cell wall, S. Miguel Tequixtepec
Graffiti de Oaxaca * julio 2010 * (”throw-up”/”piece”)
Graffiti de Oaxaca (”tag”/”throw-up”)
Graffiti de Oaxaca (“tag”/”piece”)
Graffiti/street art de Oaxaca (”tag”/stencil hybrid)
Graffiti/street art de Oaxaca (stencil detail)
Street art de Oaxaca (stencil)
Street art de Oaxaca (stencil)
Street art de Oaxaca (stencil)
Street art de Oaxaca (stencil with slogan)
Street art de Oaxaca (stencil)
Street art de Oaxaca (stencil)
Street art de Oaxaca (“paste-up”/paper sticker)
Street art de Oaxaca (“paste-ups”)
Street art de Oaxaca (“paste-up” and stencil)
Street art de Oaxaca (“paste-up”)
Street art de Oaxaca (“tag”/“paste-up”/”piece”)
Publicidad visual/iconografica de Oaxaca
Publicidad visual/iconografica de Oaxaca
Publicidad visual/iconografica de Oaxaca
Publicidad visual/iconografica de Oaxaca
Publicidad visual/iconografica de Oaxaca
Lesson/Unit Extension, Expansion
*Presentation, exploration of 3D iconographic media
(architecture, basketry, jewelry, masks, metalwork,
sand mandalas, sculpture, totems, Mayan glyphic
*Pres./explor. of 2D regional iconographic media:
slave quilts (US), textiles; thankas, ink mandalas
(Tibet); hieroglyphics; still photos (prof. &amat.).
*Individual, paired, grouped students create
visual/symbolic/iconographic narratives --- w/
&w/out alphabetic text --- to depict primary-source
narratives of personal, local, US, continental, &
world history transformations and transitions.

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