Welcome to Mudd Puppies Season 4
Walk Like and Egyptian
This is an art project that you can follow along at home. Lessons will be performed in real time. Everything you need is in your home's kitchen, or you can purchase clay at a local hobby store. Why don't you join us in this virtual classroom without walls?
rescott School's art teacher, Scott Lammer, in the opening lesson of Mudd Puppies, the after-school ceramics program that has its own cable TV show in its fourth season, was describing this season's assignment. Mudd Puppies allows the viewer to observe a ceramic art project from start to finish on Channel 19, mediacom Cable. Past episodes have featured making whimsical tea sets, strange and wonderful masks, and this season is no exception when it comes to fascinating.
"The Egyptians had some interesting burial practices," Mr. Lammer explaines in the first episode of the new season. He assumed correctly that his students knew something about pyramids and mummies if all they had experienced so far was one of those insanely popular Brendon Fraser movies. "The Eqyptians removed the organs from the dead and put them in what are called canopic jars." All you have to do is talk about gross stuff, and you have the students' undivided attention.
"These jars contained the organs which were removed from the body, and then the body was wrapped in bandages to preserve it on its journey to the afterlife," explained Mr. Lammer. "There typically were four jars, each carrying a different organ. The jars were made of stone, quartz or alabaster, or they were made of ceramic clay, often decorated with glaze or adorned in gold depending on the wealth and station of the person being entombed. Each of the four jars stood for a different spirit. There was a jackal (Duamutef), a baboon (Hapy), a falcon (Qebehsenuef) and the fourth jar had a human headed spirit (Imsety). These spirits were to protect the organs on their journey to the afterlife."
Archeologists have uncovered spectacularly decorated canopic jars in Egypt, some in magnificently carved chests. Three thousand years later, contemporary artists, fascinated and inspired by the infusion of decorative art and ritualistic burial, have created some interesting modern versions of canopic jars. It's a favorite topic of ceramic artists. And this is the assignment for the students in the Mudd Puppies program.
"You must create your own set of four jars that capture your inner spirit," explained Mr. Lammer. "If you could be an animal, what would it be?" asked Mr. Lammer of his students. "That takes care of your first jar. But you must make four others to go with it. And your art must reflect our overall learning theme for Prescott, the natural world."
This is where the assignment gets tricky. For example, if your animal spirit is a dolphin, the the next two jars could depict natural things from the dolphin's environment (the sea). A sea shell, or another sea animal (octopus, perhaps?) or a choral formation.
Let's say your creature is a playful and intelligent otter. Then the next jar could depict a crayfish (lives in a river and the otter depends on it for food), and perhaps a water lilly or cat tails can be the subject of the third jar depicting the otter's natural world.
And the fourth and final jar must be a self portrait.
The assignment will tax the students' capacity for creative thinking. And after the assignment is completed, painted and gazed, what will the kids use the jars for?
Hopefully paper clips, stubby remnants of pencils and loose change. These kids will be on a journey, alright... a learning journey.