Unit 5 Overview
We're finally done with unit 4 (whew 😅), and now, we're going to move on to some of the cultures that weren't covered in that section. In unit 5, we'll be exploring works made by indigenous (native) American artists, both before and after European colonization (pre-Columbian and post-Columbian), and see how the region's distinctive cultures have influenced the art made there.
As we go through this unit, be sure to make note of the similarities and differences that you see between these works and those made by mestizo
(part indigenous, part European) artists in Unit 4
. Some good works from the last unit for comparison would be Portrait of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
by Miguel Cabrera, Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central Park
by Diego Rivera, and The Two Fridas
by Frida Kahlo.
So, now that you have an idea of what to expect and what to do, let's get into the history of unit 5!
Contextualization (AKA the Historical Background) 🌎
When talking about the indigenous Americas, we're referring to the nations that are in present-day North (which includes Central) and South America. In the AP Art History course, these continents are split into two chronological and geographical regions called Ancient America
and Native North America
. Ancient America refers to works made in Mexico, Central, and South America that were created before 1550 CE (the end of the Age of Discovery
⛵), and all works made after that belong to the Later Americas (AKA unit 4). This region is further divided into subregions called Mesoamerica, Central America, and Andean South America, which we'll get into more later. Native North America refers to the indigenous people of the United States and Canada. As you can see, geography 🗺️ is super important in this unit, so be sure to take notes on everything we've gone over so far.
Before European expansion into the Americas, each of these subregions had thriving empires and civilizations 🏘️, but most of them were overthrown and taken by conquistadors (conquerers) from Spain 🇪🇸, and explorers from other (mainly European) nations. Although these conquerors brought many negative things to the Americas, including diseases and enslavement, they also introduced the continents to European art and artistic traditions. Eventually, these distinct cultures fused together in a process called syncretism (the merging of different beliefs and ideas) and began to affect the art made in the Americas.
****We see this in both unit 4
and several later works of unit 5.
Be sure to look out for both traditional, indigenous American techniques and European influence as we start looking at the works of this unit. Now, without further ado, the works of unit 5!