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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Made in America: Asian Exports and the American Colonies

This online gallery supports the Museum of Fine Arts exhibition Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia, on view August 18, 2015-February 15, 2015.

This lesson examines Asia’s impact on trade through the lens of American colonial crafts in the 17th and 18th centuries. This group of objects explores the depth of this influence, by examining a diverse collection of colonial goods from the Americas from tea vessels to silk panels. Indigenous artists across the world embraced Asian craft and style, a vogue that generated high demand across the colonies.

By examining Asian influenced products within the colonies, one will uncover stories of specific trade routes. Each object also represents different political and social situations of the 18th century. Asian exports were synonymous with the elite and valuable. Workshops and tradesmen saw this as an opportunity to create hybrid products, goods with similar design components of Asian trade goods but also merged styles across the globe. They also used natural resources to appeal to local audiences.

This lesson asks students to consider the impact of Asian exports in the 17th and 18th centuries but also our current global society and trade relationships. With trade routes established as early as the 16th century, how has our country developed trade and what are some positive and negative outcomes of these developments?

The objects in this lesson are just the beginning. We encourage you to explore the Museum’s online collection through this web source—or even better, to visit the Museum and walk through the physical galleries—to look for other objects that will provide further insights into this exhibition

Learning goals:

In exploring this lesson, students will:

-Discover impact of international trade during the 17th and 18th centuries

-Explore the exotic imagery and original techniques used create to Asian influenced goods

 -Learn how artists created hybrid objects, a global mix of techniques and materials

-Compare international trade in the 18th century to our current international business scene

This discovery will require students to:

-Look closely at the images and make observations based on visual evidence. 

-Make connections between the visual art and the history that encompasses its creation

Using this resource: 

·      History teachers and students will be interested in the 17th and 18th century international trade

·      History teachers and students will be interested in the unique styles and techniques from Asian exports and their impact on colonial history

·      History teachers and students will be interested in comparing colonial trade with our global society today

·      Visual Art teachers and students will be interested in in the unique styles and techniques from Asian exports

 

Sources: Carr, Dennis. Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia, Museum of Fine Arts 



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