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Engaging Cultural Art Essay


Write an essay about one (1) artwork from a non-European culture exploring the culture that produced it and how that artwork reflects and is used by the culture of the time it was made.

See Sample > Social Responsibility Essay – SAMPLE


Must come from one of the cultures listed below.

Must fit in the allowed time (year) limits as listed for that culture.

Artwork must be chosen from one of the 3 museums listed below.

Important: If you are a member of one of the cultures suggested, please choose a culture different from your own.

PICTURE of the artwork and full LABEL information required.

RESEARCH OF 3 OR MORE SOURCES about the culture and artwork are required for this assignment.

MUST include the museum where you found the artwork.


I have given you a list of good sources for researching this essay. Please USE them.

OBJECTIVE The point of this essay is to use art as a means of engaging in cross-cultural understanding based on research and art instead of assumptions.


Read: Chapters 3.3, 3.4 and 3.5 in GATEWAYS TO ART and view any videos or exercises.

USE these chapters for some specific information about cultures listed below.

You WILL need more research than the text, but you may include it in Works Cited.


CULTURAL CHOICES and TIME PERIOD allowed. Artwork must be from one of the following cultures and must have been made within the time period given. NO OTHER CHOICES accepted.

  • The Islamic World (any date, but must be an Islamicartwork)
  • South and Southeast Asia before1200 CE (AD) (Ch. 3.3 India, Southeast Asia)
  • China and Korea before 1280 CE (AD) (Ch. 3.3)
  • Japan before1333 CE (AD) (Ch. 3.3)
  • Art of the Americas before1400 CE (AD) (Ch. 3.4 Pre-Columbian all, Mexico, Central and South America, Native American)
  • Africa before1800 CE (AD) (Ch. 3.5 African peoples and countries NOT including ancient Egypt.)

WHY these limits and explanations?

Engage a different culture. You are encouraged to engage artwork from a culture different from yours.

RE continents and regions: The continent of Africa and region of Southeast Asia Continents are made up of many countries and even within those countries there may be many cultures. For example, there is no country of Africa and no single representative African culture. There is no country of Southeast Asian and no single culture.

Religions Many cultures around the world are linked to one or more religions. Remember that connection when choosing, researching and writing about your artwork.

MUSEUM VISIT to Choose Artwork

Use the chapters to help you choose the one culture whose artwork interests you.

The best local museums for this project.

Look at the Collection or Collection Highlights section of the site.

You only need to choose one (1) artwork, but start with more than 1 choice. This allows you the chance to change artworks easily, if needed.

Dallas Museum of Art , Dallas

Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas

Kimbell Museum, Fort Worth


You will virtually visit the museum of your choice from the list to choose an artwork from one of the cultures covered in chapters 3.3, 3.4 or 3.5 as the subject and focus of this essay. MUST be made BY that culture.

Save a picture and the full label information and the site URL. Must be included in the essay.

You may actually visit the museum instead, IF museums given are open and you can safely visit.

Take a picture of the artwork and the label. Picture MUST be included in the essay. Label picture is NOT put in the essay, but you need the label information for your research and writing.

You will STILL need the URL and online information for your essay and citations.


Select one piece from the museum that was made by one of the cultures listed that fits within the time period as given. (See Art work Choice Requirements page 1.)

While you are at the museum Online , take detailed notes on the piece based to have the full label information. (If not available change artwork!)

ARTIST – If listed as Unknown or no artist is listed at all, give the culture and country in place of Artist. This is more common than not, so expect to give culture or religion and country.


A list of good acceptable sources is given separately IN UNIT 5.

3 SOURCES required for information about the use and meaning of the artwork itself to the culture, and information about the culture that produced that artwork at the time it was made.

MUSEUM SOURCES You should also look at every available link at the museum for that artwork.

For example, the DMA Collection will list related articles below the picture of the artwork.

Explore every one.

IF they are sources that have information that is useful in the essay, then make a second citation for that article or essay and use and cite it separate from the Collection citation.

Other appropriate research sources, other than the museum, are explained after Outline.

You should have at least 3 good quality sources.

Go to the next page for the OUTLINE for writing the essay.

Partial SAMPLE in Assignment Folder for Picture, P2, P3 and Works Cited.

READ THE OUTLINE BEFORE you look at the sample!!!!!

OUTLINE for Writing the ESSAY

FOLLOW this outline when writing your essay.

The essay should cover the following information in items and paragraphs, in order.

Use Heading for each paragraph.

TIME PERIOD for research and writing, not for choosing artwork.

Use the year of your chosen cultural artwork as the basis for your time period for research and writing. Don’t tell the whole story of the culture. Focus on 10 to 20 years when the artwork is in use.


Label must include Artist/Culture, Title/Name of Piece, Year(s), Materials (media), Measurements, Name of Museum and the section in the museum.

Paragraph 1. Introduction

Start with a 1 or 2 sentences NAMING THE MUSEUM, and DESCRIBING YOUR VIRTUAL VISIT experience.

NAME THE ARTWORK you have chosen (by title). REMEMBER art title formatting.

EXPLAIN WHY YOU CHOSE THIS ARTWORK. What made it interesting to you?

You may mention the subject, style, anything that made this work stand out to you visually.

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO LEARN about the artwork and its culture from this analysis. What do you think it represents or is about in relationship to its culture?

Paragraph 2. Cultural Context Use your research when writing this paragraph.


The artwork’s year(s) helps to limit the time period for your description of the culture too.

DESCRIBE THE CULTURE/RELIGION during the time relevant to the artwork.


Should be specifically related to the artwork’s culture and regional location.


Includes meaning of art form, materials, style, beliefs, customs, and other factors.

Paragraph 3. Artwork in Cultural Context Use your research when writing this paragraph.

IDENTIFY THE FOLLOWING information for the artwork.

ART FORM – Name the ART FORM. Use label information for help.

CULTURAL STYLE or PERIOD STYLE (Label and research based answer.)

If the research says it is of a certain style of the time, region or culture, NAME THAT STYLE.

MATERIALS – Name the MATERIALS used to make this artwork.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MATERIALS USED. Are they commonly used in the culture?

Do the materials have a cultural meaning or symbolism? If not, say that too.

FIT THE ARTWORK INTO ITS CULTURAL CONTEXT which is the culture you described in P2.

Discuss function, meaning and/ or symbolism. Include beliefs and customs.

Can include the value or meaning of the materials, process of making and perhaps the art form.

Paragraph 4. Conclusion

Reconsider your first responses in paragraph 1.

How has learning about the artwork and its cultural context expanded, or even changed, your understanding and appreciation of the artwork? Must explain.

How has learning about the artwork and its cultural context expanded your understanding of a culture other than your own? Must explain.


List of citations for all research sources all in MLA format.

3 or more research sources required. ALL quotes/ paraphrases require in-text citations.

SEE UNIT 5 for suggested sources.

WORKS CITED list and citations and in-text citations must be MLA formatted.

OWL Purdue site for MLA formatting for in-text citations, full citations and Bibliography. Similar information and link is also found in the TOOLKIT on eCampus in the left menu.

END Outline.


TIME PERIOD for research and writing, not for choosing artwork.

Use the year of your chosen cultural artwork as the basis for your time period for research and writing. Don’t tell the whole story of the culture. Focus on 10 to 20 years when the artwork is in use.

MUST include the Museum website where you chose the artwork. See folder in assignment folder.

ALL sources must apply directly to either the artwork itself or the culture at the time of the artwork.

Use only academic sources, such as the textbook, books or e-books from the college library, library databases, professional documentaries (PBS, BBC, etc.), or websites used in this course like, Khan Academy Art History, and museum websites are ALL linked elsewhere.

MAY include the textbook, give specific pages that provided information used.

Video (SOURCE MATTERS!), journals, professional documentaries (PBS, BBC, etc.).

Magazine and eZine articles that are informative, not notices or simply reviews.

ALL research sources Must be based on scholarly research or experience not opinion.

NO non-academic blogs, travel sites, or other sites with no sources listed.

Your research should be based on research.

If your best information is from one of the “no” sites, then look for the source of the information given on that site. That may lead you to a better source.

ALL historical or cultural information from ALL sources including the museum plaque, books, websites, etc., must be properly cited in MLA format in both in-text citations and in the Works Cited list.

NO –,,,,, other encyclopedias, and any other commercial/ad-supported sites are NOT acceptable.


Papers written by students and published on the web outside of college/university web sites ARE NOT acceptable as research.

ANY source quoted or paraphrased in the essay MUST HAVE BOTH an in-text citation and the complete citation in the Works Cited.

NOTE for future college work: As you go forward, not giving citations for information used in a paper can be considered plagiarism. That is a serious breach of the Student Code.

WRITING the Paper

WRITE the paper outside of eCampus in a WORD document.

Proof and edit BEFORE you submit. Compress images too.

This is a formal essay! No slang, no text speak (u for you), no dialogue.

DO NOT use the following: NO highlighting, NO shading, NO colored text.

NO bullets, no numbered lists, AND NO borders or other decorations.


FILE TYPE: MUST BE A WORD DOCUMENT. No other file type will be accepted.


USE PARAGRAPH HEADERS like the ones in the SAMPLE. Can use Rubric for Headers.

LENGTH: Image with label, 4 paragraphs, bibliography. 3-4 pages – Longer is not needed.

FONT SIZE: 12 point, standard fonts only – Calibri, Arial, Times New Roman

MARGINS: 1″ margins, left-justified.

SPACING: DOUBLE SPACE the essay and bibliography. Header – single spaced.

HEADER: Use a header for your name, title of paper, and course name/number.


The highest possible grade on this assignment is 100 pts.

I GRADE this assignment using the Engaging Cultural Art Essay RUBRIC.

It is provided in the folder on eCampus with this assignment.

You will not receive points for items omitted from the essay.

Added information outside of the assignment will not be included in the grading.

This includes added pictures.

Grading also includes some specific writing skills, the required citations and bibliography, and the inclusion of the image and label information of the artwork analyzed.

You will receive a completed grading rubric along with the graded essay attached to your grade found in MY GRADES on eCampus.

Grading time should be approximately 2 weeks.

Last Updated on April 24, 2021

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