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You Are What You Wear

Visual Clues: Visit the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to view more portraits. Can you find a painting or a photograph that includes as many personal items as the portrait of the Comtesse d’Egmont? In your favorite portrait, how does the person’s clothing help you understand more about him or her?  

Creative Crowns: What you wear can tell people something about who you are or what you do. Imagine you are designing a crown for a friend or family member. What shapes and colors would you use? How would you decorate the crown? Now make a drawing or cut and paste images from magazines to show how the crown would look. What do the designs and materials you chose reveal about the person this crown is for?  

A Good Keepsake: The Asmat use a doroe, or full-body costume, to represent a relative who has recently died. Think about someone you never see anymore, who died or lives far away. Do you keep something to remind you of that person? What makes a good keepsake? What do you do with it? Write a description of your keepsake and share it with a friend.  

Dig Deeper: The beadwork designs on Anishinabe bandolier bags were used on many types of clothing. Search the MIA’s Web site to see examples. Then dig deeper to find photos of Anishinabe wearing traditional garments. You can also use the key words “Ojibwe,” another name for the Anishinabe, and “Chippewa,” often used for this Native American tribe in the past. A good place to start your research is the Minnesota History Center Web site.  

Precious Cargo: The Miao people use baby carriers to protect and transport little children. How are babies carried in your community? How do the baby carriers you see compare to those used by the Miao? Which do you prefer? Draw a baby carrier and decorate it with designs and symbols that have meaning for your community.  

December 2008