Engineering: Structures: how things are made
Iatmul peoples, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
Some Iatmul sculptures, like this hook, refer to creation stories and include powerful symbolism of ripples, water, fish, and human forms. This utilitarian sculpture was used to hang bags of food and belongings out of the reach of animals. How do you think it was made? In addition to symbolic meaning, what benefits do the designs on this hook provide?
Chokwe peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo
early-mid 20th century
wood and metal brads
This chair is a hybrid between European and traditional Chokwe design. Most Chokwe chairs have no back and are carved from a single piece of wood. However this one was pieced together from different pieces of wood and other materials, similarly to a European design. How would this structure change if it were carved in the traditional method? Is one method more functional than the other?
Waldo Park Midgley
Salt Lake City, Utah
The Empire State Building
oil on canvas
While training as an artist in New York, Midgley witnessed the completion of the Empire State Building. As the dominating feature in the New York skyline at the time of its creation, Midgley’s painting had to be just as striking and prominent. Having the spire seemingly touch the clouds demonstrates how this structure was viewed as a larger-than-life creation that created a new vision of the future.
Nathan Aldous Johansen
Faith of a Mustard Seed
As a work of nonobjective art, the meaning of the piece is portrayed through the simple yet daunting contrast between the wooden mustard seed and the black stone which surrounds it. The strength of the little wooden seed is almost overpowered by the power of the dark stone. The result is a very emotional response to the work, which represents the strength of the ability to have faith in the midst of overwhelming struggles.
- Understanding how things are made is important to understanding our world. Look at each of these objects and describe how you think they were made. What materials and tools were used?
- Now choose two of these objects. How could you use those two objects together to solve an engineering problem?
- What single object would you make to solve that same problem? What would you use to make it?