Formal Analysis Paper

Due: January 27. 2009

  • Write a 3-page formal analysis of one of the Northwest Coast baskets on display at the Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Ave. (see attached diagram). The paper should begin with a header identifying the basket, its maker (if known), where it came from, and its date. 
You will need to describe the shape and size of the basket, as well as its materials, textures, colors, and patterns. Also, explain the basket's function. Do not merely describe the work; show how the form and the patterns give the basket meaning. The accompanying label will provide some information. At the entrance to the "Native Heritage" exhibit area is a computer kiosk that provides additional information on baskets, their construction, materials, and uses. These sources should be cited in your paper (see examples below).  You do not need to do any additional research for this paper; however, if you do, be sure to cite those sources properly. Your paper should include an overall sketch of the basket and a detail sketch of the pattern of weaving and any surface decoration. Don't worry--I'm not looking for a masterpiece here. Just do your best.

Although these baskets bridge the gap between functional objects and works of art, Sylvan Barnet's A Short Guide to Writing about Art, 9th ed., 2008, provides helpful hints for writing a formal analysis (see pp. 47-84 and 113-134) on any object.

When you visit the museum, be sure to bring your student ID card for discounted admission, or go to the museum between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays for free admission.

Examples for citing labels and information on computer kiosk at museum (format is for footnotes or endnotes):

Museum label, Washington State History Museum, Tacoma, WA.
Computer kiosk, Washington State History Museum, Tacoma, WA.

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