Monday, February 8, 2021

Valentine Mosaics

 After a week of studying about ancient Greece, my class moved on to learn of Ancient Rome. Mosaics weren't invented in Greece or Rome but that's where they were perfected, and Rome is full of beautiful micro-mosaics that look almost like paintings. Rome was home of something else too: a saint named Valentine. As legend has it, he secretly performed weddings for Roman soldiers who were forbidden to marry, and for this he was put to death. Another story of perhaps another St. Valentine (It seems there were a couple martyrs with the same name) says that he visited downtrodden and mistreated Roman prisoners gifting cards... or that he was a prisoner who fell in love with a girl who visited him, maybe the jailor's daughter and that he signed a letter "From your Valentine." The Christian based holiday of St. Valentine's was a replacement for the Pagan mating rituals of February, Lupercalia. Roman's went people being killed for being Christian to being killed for not being Christian. Valentine's Day today has references to both Christianity and Pagan history: St. Valentine, who was a Catholic, the Greek god Eros, whose Roman name is Cupid, and his mother, the Greek goddess of Love, Aphrodite, whose Roman name is Venus, although I'm guessing most people aren't thinking about religion at all when they sign their Valentine's Day card.

To make our Valentine mosaics, my students used hearts that were cut from painted or colored mat board, a smaller heart was cut from within, and smaller pieces of half a small heart at a time were cut and glued. It's too hard to keep track of very many cut pieces at a time, so we focused on 4-8 at a time. The other small half and then the outer heart, half at a time were glued into place leaving little cracks. We talked about the idiom "broken heart" and played a game to try to see how many song titles we could name with the word "heart" in it. Normally, I'm not a fan using art class to make holiday crafts, but it fit so well with the curriculum of ancient cultures and art history that I couldn't resist.  A glued piece of ribbon on the back makes it easy to hang on a wall or on the door nob of a loved one as a gift. Love big everyone!

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