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Black Pinto Horse Fine Arts

Warrior Shields, How I want the world to see me...

"Thank you for coming and teaching me how to learn about myself."
7th grade student

Age Appropriate
Project Time
Grades 4-12, collegiate, community organizations as well teambuilding workshops, teacher and corporate training

Short Version: 4- 5 hours

Long Version: 6-8 hours

Why a Warrior Shield?

Historically, Shields served two purposes to tribal people, specifically Warriors or guardians of the community; to protect the individual from enemy weapons and secondly, the shields were adorned with images, symbols and colors that defined the bearer and how he wanted his enemy or the world to see him.

Emily demonstrating stitching process

As the historical significance of the shield to the warrior throughout the world is introduced, it is compared with the more contemporary shield used today- education.  Today our enemy has changed.  It now comes in the form of drugs, alcohol, abuse, etc.  Education is the key component in the growth of knowledge and wisdom which enables a person to make good choices for oneself and their people/ family.  

The project in a nut shell

Students will be able to complete a 12” warrior shield using a metal hoop with canvas that they stretch and sew using sinew (long time frame), placing colors, symbols and images on their warrior shield to represent the types of things that define them; their heritage, gifts, things they enjoy and family.  Four feathers hang below the shield where the children write two goals and two accomplishments on the back and design the front of the feathers using colored pencils.

The students think about and discuss their own identity, where they come from and who their ancestors are.  This information assists students in formulating where they are as an individual presently and assists them towards projecting themselves to maintain and accomplish new goals for the future. 

4 feathers, 2 goals 2 accomplishments

What are your learning objectives for students and/or community members in the residency?  (What do you want them to know and be able to do at the end of the residency?)

* Students will be able to list the colors and their meanings
* Students will be able to identify examples of historical shields and the materials they were made of, process, natural paints, etc.
* Students will be able to stitch and sew a three dimensional shield using canvas and sinew
* Students will be able to create a painting that is a demonstration of their heritage and the things they enjoy, using the elements of design, composition and color theory
* Students will be able to compare and contrast negative and positive space

Students view their classmates shields during a community event and presentation

Student shares the meanings of his shield
How will you assess whether the students/community members learned what you wanted them to know and be able to do?

Students will demonstrate their understanding by creating shields that are visually symbolic of where they have come from, who they are and who they will become.  They will prepare the painting surface of the shield using sinew and stretching and sewing canvas around a brass ring.  Their shield will include at least 2-3 visual elements and be well composed, utilizing both negative and positive space.  They will present their shield to the class, sharing the interpretation of the colors, symbols and composition, as well as two goals and two accomplishments.  When asked, they will be able to identify whether their objects are representational or non-representational during the presentation of their shield.  Students will follow up with a written interpretation of the meaning of their shield and attach it to the back.

Students from Bridger Alternative H. S. accept shield by Black Pinto Horse for its display in their new school.

Emily interprets her shield, explaining color theory

To receive a packet of information or schedule your fine art program with Monte and Emily Yellow Bird, please email Emily @






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