20th century replicas of Tsimshian and Haida totem poles outside Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
Art contributes to many social functions too. Parades feature colorful banners, extravagant floats and plastic inflatable characters from pop culture. Many ceremonies and rituals rely on works of art to act as vessels for the spirit world. Totem poles tell elaborate stories, using real and mythic animals to illustrate them. The Tsimshian and Haida totem poles pictured at right have a hierarchical structure to them so that the most important character in the story is at the top of the pole.
NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, Washington, D.C.
The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt pictured at right combines thousands of individually created quilts, each bearing the name of a victim of AIDS, into a collective image of loss and remembrance for family members and friends. Exhibiting the quilt around the United States has brought awareness about the disease to the general public.
US Peace Bridge stamp
Artists sometimes work in collaboration with others that have special technical training or knowledge in a particular medium to create something they couldn’t do on their own. In an example, Canadian artist Rolf Harder teamed with Design Collaborative Montreal to create the Peace Bridge Stamp.
The Chicago Public Art Group is a collaborative organization creating murals, mosaics and other art works for public spaces. Each project carries a theme significant to its specific location: from a colorful mural seen by commuters at a rapid transit stop to Hopes and Dreams, a large mosaic panel in downtown Chicago welcoming the new millennium. Each project is unique and involves the work of many artists, planners and volunteers.
Aerial view of the 2010 Burning Man Festival, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA
As a final example, the Burning Man celebration at Black Rock City in Nevada draws thousands of people - artists and non-artists, in a week-long festival of art installations, performances and elaborate costumes that surround the construction and ultimate immolation of a massive effigy known as the Burning Man. The festival’s creativity and expression serves a communal social function. In the photo at right you can see the concentric layout of Black Rock City – constructed and taken down each year – with the Burning Man sculpture isolated in the middle.
Do some research on the potlatch which is a gift-giving feast practiced by Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada and the United States. Record your notes in your journal.