A lesson in everyday visual art appreciation.

Welcome to the exciting idea of learning about the visual arts with international currencies used as the medium of reference.
Many people tend to think that art is not important. But without the visual artists we would not have money to express value and to conduct trade on any level.
These designers work with engravers and relief designers to create the designs in paper money or coins to serve the personal, cultural, and national needs of its users. Yet it is so easy for many of us not to see money as powerful, beautiful, and curiously incredible works of art.

Even coupons can be considered a type of money. Tickets may be also. The artists that create these items have to consider a lot of things in order to be successful. Plus they have to be clever enough to stay a step ahead of counterfeiters. In other words they even have to be better than the other artists who may want to copy their work.

This requires talent, skill, intelligence, imagination, and a very good work ethic.
We live with this art every day of our lives. It binds us to others on so many levels. It makes everything possible. Yet we overlook the gifted artists that create money for our personal or professional use.
By the end of this lesson you will see money in a broader light while gaining some insight into other countries and their design and use of money.

In the future some of you may even start telling your friends that money is your favorite form of visual art. You may pull out a hundred dollar bill and say, "Look at that great work of beautiful, functional, art!!!

 Welcome to your lesson on the visual arts using money as the medium of a creative learning exchange. This is every day visual art that makes our world go around. This is a type of art that we love to use and receive.
The images in this site were selected for educational purposes only. They are not to be used for commercial reasons. It may be illegal to print images of currencies for any reason therefore I suggest you do not make prints of this curriculum web.

" Enjoy this exciting geopolitical lesson in the visual arts."
Turtel Onli M.A.A.T.


The image above is an example of the early types of printing presses that engravers used to create paper money.
In order to complete these assignments you will need the following supplies and skills.
1. A sketch book or some type of unlined drawing paper.
2. Writing supplies as in lined paper and a pen.
3. Drawing materials such as markets, crayons, or colored pencils. Basic art making skills. The student should have successfully completed the fundamental art class assignments in studio art and art criticism.
4. Basic internet and computer skills such as using the browser, links, and basic scrolling methods.
5. An open mind to independent creative learning. 
News: The USA is going to redesign its 20 dollar bill. Another great job for an artist.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You will learn about the money designed for use in Greece, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Australia, the United States of America, Japan, Singapore, and Mexico.
This lesson will expose you to the icons, economies, and histories of these nations as well.
You will open up to the fascinating qualities of the kinds of currencies that artists have designed for several countries around the world.
The idea was to provide a sampling of designs that could be considered representative of the major cultural or economic nations of the world in a context to provide for creative learning that is interdisciplinary and multicultural.
This lesson combines art appreciation, art history, and art making based on the most visible of all visual art forms.
There is a historical and geopolitical slant to this lesson that may encourage you to visit some of these countries in the near future.

Learn about Japanese Yen, Greek Drachma, 
World Dollars, Mexican Peso, 
Saudi Arabian Riyal, & Nigerian Naira   

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"EMPOWERING THE TEACHER" with Graphic Novels to the Classroom.
  Be sure to scroll down to locate your desired lesson.                                                                                     We offer professional development workshops for educators grades K-12: 

Prepared By Dr. Auburn Ellis 
Director of Creative Engagement

What are the benefits of participating in professional development activities with ONLI STUDIOS?

These workshops provide professional development, which utilizes visual and literary art-based critical approaches to core  curriculum and instruction that are teacher and student centered. 

One does not have to be a "talented artist" to be successful in these workshops.

The goals and objectives are to provide participants with contemporary strategies to enhance engagement and to diversify instruction. They are based on creative approaches to building a community atmosphere and positive identity in the classroom for reluctant readers. 

Regardless of discipline, utilizing proven Visual & Literary Art based strategies will equip educators with the tools to serve in diverse communities. Every social movement is represented by the arts, even today.  

For example the Bronzeville Movement was depicted by artists entrenched in the interpretation of life styles, culture, education, religion and politics in the city of Chicago. These workshops will include guided instruction on ways various visual and literary art forms can be utilized to engage students in multiple ways.

Furthermore we provide workshops based on the utilization of graphic novels for classroom instruction. Graphic novels are not only a tool for art based approaches to learning, in the case of the Black Age of Comics, which was launched in Bronzeville, they also serve as a medium for transmitting positive diverse cultural messages. Creative and non-fictional writing, illustration and graphic design offers teachers and students the unique opportunity to work in tandem. 

These workshops are great!

 Expressions of visual creativity are reflective of the human experiences we all share. Several workshops delve into ways to enliven classroom instruction with these resources. 

 Looking for innovative ways to improve classroom engagement? 

 Register for a workshop at Onli Studios and join us for professional development aimed at engaging multiple ways of learning for students of all backgrounds.

Use our Contact Page to state your interest and we will contact you to make the arrangements.


We will do the following:

Introduce participants to the utilizing of graphic novels and interdisciplinary arts-based strategies in the classroom in a creative and non-fiction context. 

Help educators to understand the benefits of art-based strategies regardless of discipline.  

Equip teachers with unit plans to utilize as well as provide supplementary resources.  

Guide practitioners in identifying the best ways to use creativity in their specific practice.  

• Explore how creativity engages multiple ways of learning, knowing and doing.  

Familiarize professionals with local cultural institutions, for example the DuSable Museum, to use as a resource (or for field trips) in the future.

1. International Currencies for visual art appreciation.

2. Resource and visual art vocabulary.

3. Core curriculum assistance for bringing graphic novels into the classroom. 

You will have fun learning about the relationship of words, pictures, and symbols in for communication and expression. The vehicle for this lesson will be art forms that are available to us on a routine basis. Educators using Core Curriculum standards may find our selections on bringing Graphic Novels to the classroom beneficial.

"The goal of a quality visual arts education is for the student to become a critical observer and thinker. Each student will become more aware of the role of the visual arts in our lives and society as a whole."

People have always civilized themselves with the organized application of images, symbols, and words.
"Money, Money, Money!" uses classic international currencies to teach the visual arts, language arts, culture, and geopolitical awareness.  


In 2013 Dr. Auburn E. Ellis finished her Ed.D in Adult and Continuing Education at National Louis University in Chicago. As a lifelong learner, taking the initiative has always been the focus of her career and academics. Her dissertation is titled Integrating Aesthetics: Transforming Continuing and Professional Education through Africentric Practices.  The research is focused on finding more positive ways to implement curriculum and instruction in urban communities.  

During her undergraduate career at the University of Missouri-Columbia she received both a Bachelors of Art in Studio Art and a Bachelors of Science in Art Education, subsequently completing the Masters program at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago specializing in Museum Education. Graduate Studies included work abroad in Prague and Italy.  

Working as an art instructor for Chicago Public Schools since 2007, Dr. Ellis has a wealth of experience developing curriculum and assessment. 

 Currently, she is serving as Director of Creative Engagement at ONLI STUDIOS. Please visit to view a portfolio as well as photos from ongoing field research.



 All of the images in this site are presented for the educational purposes only. The legal rights, and copyrights are reserved by the appropriate instructors, estates, artists, and individuals respectively. This is a teaching tool and should not be expected to take the place of a quality museum or fine arts course. 

( Please note that all of the images that appear in this site were selected for educational purposes and are not to be printed or used for commercial reasons. They are copyrighted or trademarked by the creators, estates, or companies to whom they are registered. )

Be sure to scroll the entire page.
Related Vocabulary:

Art Elements: Basic components that are used to create a work of visual art. This includes color, line, shape,circle, space ,value, and form.

Art Principles: The combination of art elements that give a work of art more sophistication. This includes perspective, proportion, movement, intensity, unity, pattern, texture, contrast, and rhythm.

Critique: A standardized evaluation.

Sequential Art: Drawings that are linked by a progression that follow or actually tells a story from start to finish. This is typical of movie story boards and comic books.

Surrealism: A style of art that was created in the early 20th century based on images that were derived from the subconscious or dream state of the human mind. Surrealists often depicted dreamscape environments, transmuted creatures, and ironic concepts. This type of work required a practiced disciplined technical ability to produce convincing results and effects. It was a reaction to the idea that artwork should be based on the real world as we normally experience it. Salvador Dali became the most effective of the surrealists by using the concepts of psychiatry in a lot of his artwork. This "inner world" was presented in the groundbreaking psychoanalytical research of Sigmund Freud.

Heavy Metal Music: A music form that was created in the late '60s that was based on the intense application of electrified and distorted sound, powerful cord progressions, pulsating rhythms, screaming vocals, and extravagant stage shows. The music was derived from concepts found in the Blues, Classical, and Folk music. It epitomized the idea of a growing counter-culture that could be as viable as mainstream society. A writer for the Rolling Stone magazine first used the term "heavy metal music" to describe a performance by the Jimi Hendrix Experience rock band. This is reported to be gleaned from its earlier use in author WIlliam S. Burroughs' book, "The Naked Lunch" which conveyed insightful passions of the "Beat Generation".

Rhythmism: An approach to creating art that draws its energy from the primitive-tribal past and projects that influence into a contemporary or futuristic context. It includes fine, esoteric, professional, or commercial art forms. The term was coined by Turtel Onli, in Chicago Illinois, during the seventies to set a section of artwork that he was advocating aside from the larger, more vague concept of "Black Art." It came out of his participation in both the Black Power movement and the counter-culture youth movements of that period. Usually the subject matter was pop images, or mystical icons. He viewed it as mainstream and went on to apply it to illustration, TV courtroom illustration, fine art, wearable art, comic-books, broadcast media, and therapeutic art.

Cubism: The use of cube-like angular geometric shapes to express esoteric, mystical, and personal ideas in a non-western Africanized , primitive tribal, conceptual context. The cubists often looked to the traditional sculpture of Africa for visual ideas. This movement started in western Europe during the early part of the 20th century. The cubists were energetic in painting, drawing, printmaking, and all types of sculpture. Ironically this movement excluded artists of African descent and is looked upon as a western European movement.

Pop Art: A movement in modern art that treated everyday popular images, celebrities, and items as subjects of artistic concentration. By nature Pop Art is to be popular, designed for the masses, transient, expendable, low cost, mass produced, youth oriented, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, and big business. Common objects and images were often used by these artists to challenge the traditions established about suitable subject matter for art. Many Pop Artists were trained as commercial artists before becoming active in this movement.

Afro-centric Art: Trans-African art. This type of art is derived from the idea of a modern african esthetic. It started with the guerilla art movement of the mid-sixties in Chicago with the creation of the Wall of Respect and the Wall of Truth murals that symbolized Black nationalism and liberation. This art uses bright colors, harmony, music, tones, patterns, words, and icons to express themes of pride, social responsibility, the Black family, community issues, and dignity. It tends to be functional and integrated into the community. Muralist Bill Walker organized the Walls of Respect and Truth murals with the help of a large number of radical thinking community based artists. Jeff Donaldson founded the Africobra group to promote the idea of Trans African art. Robert E. Paige designed the Dakkabar collection for Sears at that time to promote these types of ideas in high profile textile design. Turtel Onli started BAG: the Black Arts Guild to be a training guild for student artists dedicated to a career in the visual arts and the rise of Black culture in America. He also started the Black Age of Comics as a movement in alternative comic book publishing. John Pittman-Weber worked hard to create the Public Art Workshop. All of this was based in Chicago during the sixties until the present.
Imagists: This was a movement that started in Chicago in the late sixties. These artists were looking toward tribal art, folk art, art brut, and pop art for inspiration. They came into prominence after a series of group shows at the Hyde Park Art Center on the south side of Chicago. Their work used bright colors, neon effects, large images with flat backgrounds, and subjects that were esoteric, political, or popular in origin. They were challenging the fact that most Chicago based galleries and museums of the time would not feature Chicago based artists. They went on to become the dominant artists for Chicago in the fine art scene. Their work appears in major corporate, personal, or museum collections.

Negritudism: This is art that tried to link Negro culture to a romantic expression of African based images or ideas. Much of the art associated with the Harlem Renaissance was created in this mode. This would be during the early to middle 20th century American culture. These images tended to be very idealistic yet well crafted. It was a powerful force against the negative images that were associated with Negro culture at the time. Some of it was found in forms of Art Deco stylizations of the period.
Carving: A sculptural method where sections are taken away in order to create a resulting three dimensional work of art. Usually this is done with wood, clay, or stone. This is often called a subtractive process because material is taken away to create the final product.
Etching: Designs or marks that are scratched into the surface with a sharp tool. There is also a printing process by the same name.
Illustration: An image that is created to tell a story, communicate an idea, or interpret a concept. This image may be a photograph, a drawing, a painting, a collage, or a digital design. Typically illustrations are used in the publication and broadcast industries.

Motifs: Designs that are used to characterize an idea or concept. It could also be a elemental theme that is used in a routine way.

Numbers: A set system of symbols that represent various amounts or quantities.

Picture Writing: A system of writing that is based on the use of actual pictures. The ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamian, Mayas, Incas, and Chinese developed very complicated systems of picture writing.

Symbols: Images that represent very specific ideas or institutions. Logos are similar to symbols.

Written Language: A system of drawn or written symbols that correspond to organized verbalized sounds when read aloud and has set rules of grammar, definitions, syntax, and utility.


1. Humans are the only living animals that create art. Beavers, Bees, Birds, and Ants are builders but don't radically modify their designs based on personal or esthetic ideas.
2. Comic book readers tend to have above average reading scores.
3. Comic books were invented in the United States. The artists and writers of comic books are referred to as "creators."
4. The comic book industry is usually divided into the following categories: Golden Age, Silver Age, Marvel Age, Manga, Bande Dessinee, and The Black Age.
5. Art and visual artists can be found in every level of society regardless of class or culture. Every culture or social group has developed various standards and roles for the arts.
6. Certain traffic signs, hazard signs, instructional symbols, and icons can be viewed as contemporary manifestations of picture writing.

The island nation of Japan has a rich history, culture, and is known for its dynamic economic potential. Its money is called the Yen. It is a force in terms of the international monetary system. Japan as we know it evolved quickly from its traditional agricultural imperial nature to an industrialized empire that ultimately settled into being an influential force in commerce and industry. This small dynamic nation produces automobiles, electronics, animation, and fashion for the rapidly changing world market while reserving its basic traditions that are centuries old. We will look at the role of its money in all of this. To the right is a geographical map to the nation of Japan.  
1. To learn about the history, culture, and nature of Japanese aesthetics.
2. To learn how the evolution and design of the Yen echoed the changes in the people and nation of Japan.
3. To appreciate the design aspects of the Yen and to critique its appearance and utility.
4. To design a Yen that would include elements derived from some of Japan's more popular images.
A 10 Yen bill from the late 1800s.
The designers of this bill were careful to include selected traditional images and characters combined with the western numerical system. The currency was needed in order for the Japanese to conduct business with the nations of Europe in an orderly fashion. The written form of the Japanese language is structured vertically and is read right to left, top to bottom. The symmetrical design balances the placement of the icons, symbols, numbers, and emblems in an arrangement that allows for easy reading and recognition.   
A Ten Thousand Yen Bill From 1958  
A 2000 Yen bill made in the year 2000.  
Japan is respected worldwide for its successful exports. The Honda automobile and traditional Kabuki theatre are examples of its culture and economic effectiveness. Each of these concepts rely heavily on the vision and skills of trained visual artists. Each item depends on its visual appeal to reach its audience. The yen and cultural arts are how many Americans are introduced to Japanese culture. As a pop icon Godzilla has generated millions of yen for the Japanese economy while providing employment for many of its visual artists.         REVIEW QUESTIONS:
1. Where is the island nation of Japan located?
2. What is the name of the currency of Japan?
3. Critique a Yen using the Four Step Critique process.
Design a new yen using a combination of the images shown on this page or others such as Godzilla, Pokemon, Japanimation, Kabuki, sushi, the kimono, Japanese text characters, samurai, and automobiles. You must use at least five of these elements in your design of the "New Yen". These elements along with the indicated values should express the ideas of culture, nationalism, and economy.
IT'S GREEK TO ME!!!!!!!!! 
  Ancient Greece is often referred to as the birthplace of Western civilization. The Greeks of the classical periods were dedicated to the arts, sciences, politics, warfare, sports, and architecture. They were known for studying in other countries such as Eygpt, and making their intellectual academies available to students of higher learning. Politically they set up a system of city states with each functioning as autonomous nations. This included commerce as well as warfare. Fortunately the Greeks are more known for their artistic and intellectual legacies than their military exploits  ASSIGNMENTS:
1. To appreciate the creative and cultural influences of the ancient Greeks.
2. To learn about the long term and enduring legacy of Greek civilization.
3. To critique the coins and paper money produced by the Greeks over several eras.
4. To create a design for a coin and paper form of money using Greek icons.
 The developmental periods of Greek culture are known as the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods. Each one is characterized by a distinct application of aesthetic thought and cultural awareness. In ancient times they created economic systems and designed coins that were used as currency. In modern times the nation of Greece uses paper currency like most countries.
The archaic period featured art that was simple and stiff it its appearance. The designs shown in this lesson blend aspects of the Hellenistic and Classical periods. The Hellenistic being more mythological and the Classical being more formal in appearance.
The first bill you see above has a holographic image in the circle on the side to make it harder to counterfeit. 
This bill was designed in 1943.
   The bill above is representative of the Classical influence in terms of the application of visual design elements. The text on all of these samples is in the Greek script which is the basis of the alphabet that we use worldwide for the English language.
Balance and symmetry were concepts that the Greek artists used routinely to represent harmony and equilibrium in life. Notice how space and placement are used in the bill above and the coins below to achieve this effect.  The ornate qualities used in this coin suggest a corinthian basis on the part of the designer. In ancient times coins were often used to show dominance over a conquered area or nation. A portrait of the dominating general would appear on the coin as a tribute.   Review Questions.
1. Where is the nation of Greece located?
2. What is the name of the money used in modern Greece?
3. Explain the characteristics of the Archaic, Hellenistic, and Classical Periods of ancient Greece.
4. Why is ancient Greece called "the Birthplace of Western civilization"?
5. Write a Four Step critique of a Drachma.
Studio Assignment:
Design a Drachma using the elements featured on this page and our alphabet.
Stylize our alphabet to look similar to that of the Greeks.
Did you know that several countries use dollars as their medium of exchange? The United States of America, Australia, and Singapore use the name "dollar" for its money. How can they keep them distinct without a judicious application of the design process? This is an incredible example of art on an everyday basis. Each dollar must represent its country and culture in relevant ways yet serve the needs of organized commerce as well. In this lesson you learn many things about this vital, everyday, visual art form.
Dollars are designed by visual artists using a very sophisticated form of engraving and printmaking. They are called engravers. ASSIGNMENTS:
1. Learn about several countries and their use of dollars.
2. Recognize, appreciate, and critique each country's dollar as a work of visual art. This includes words, emblems, icons, symbols, and design elements.
3. To understand the distinct aspects of nationalism, culture, and commerce that is symbolized in the design of each dollar.
4. You may choose to design your own personal dollar based on a combination of your appearance, zodiac sign, diet, talent, wardrobe, hobbies, pet, role models, heroes, idols, values, last name, age, location, religion, culture, and nationality. You must use at least five of these features to create your design.
5. You may design an "international dollar".
Did you know the first major counterfeiting machine was called the Bogus Machine. It produced bogus money. Which is why we use the term bogus to mean phony, valueless, or pretentious. Sometimes businesses create dollars to promote themselves but this money can never be used as national currency in any circumstance. We often refer to it as coupons or play money.
Australia was a member of the British Commonwealth. During that time its currency was called the Pound and reflect a British influence is its design. You will notice how it blended aspects of Australia's icons with its English heritage.
Once Australia became more independent it renamed its currency from the Pound to the Dollar. But with the Queen of England on it to reflect its British roots while asserting its uniqueness as a sovereign nation. Australia and the USA started as British Colonies yet the USA doesn't reflect its English roots in the icons selected for its dollar's designs. Instead it reflects the ideas basic to its history or cultural values.     
When several southern states on the United States of America withdrew from the union and formed the Confederate States of America they minted their own currency to project their national values. Yet they did call it a dollar as well.
This is an actual United States dollar that was used around 1917. Notice how elaborate and ornate the design elements are. This reflected the opulence and sophistication of the upper classes of the country at that time. This includes a booming wealth based nationalism as well. Major wealth was being accumulated by increasing amounts of people and the look of the dollar expressed it.
Singapore is a island nation that in some ways is actually a city. It broke away from Malaysia to become a prosperous, stable, English speaking country. This area was once included in the British Empire along with Australia, and the American Colonies that became the United States of America. Singapore also calls its money the Dollar. But its design reflects its cultural and national interests differently than the dollars of other countries.    
1. What is Bogus Money?
2. List two countries that use dollars as their form of currency.
3. What are the common histories and cultural links that are shared by these countries.
4. Write a Four Step critiqueof one of the dollars presented on this page.
Use basic drawing materials.
Option 1:Design both sides of a dollar using a combination of elements featured on this page or other sources.
Option 2:Design your own personal dollar based on a combination of your appearance, zodiac sign, diet, talent, wardrobe, hobbies, pet, role models, heroes, idols, values, last name, age, location, religion, culture, and nationality. You must use at least five of these features to create your design.
.SAY SO WITH THE PESO!!!!!!!!!!  
The Peso is the name for the main type of currency used in the country of Mexico. Mexico is the central American country that shares the southern border with the United States of America. It is a country that dynamically blends several traditions. The design of this form of money expresses the rich cultural history and progress of the Mexican nation and its people Most of the countries of central and South America were under the rule of Spain. The legacy is why they practice the Catholic religion and speak spanish.
1. To learn about the basic design elements of the Peso.
2. To appreciate the country of Mexico, its culture and geopolitical history.
3. To learn about the Native heritage of Mexico.
4. To create your own version to the Mexican Peso using any combination of images or words that is derived from the Mexican culture or landscape.
Some Historical Information
 The people of the country we know as Mexico arrived there over 2,000 years before the Spanish Conquistadors. These indigenous people were very diverse and industrious. The major cultures were the Aztec, Olmec, and Mayan. They practiced their own religions, spoke and wrote in their own languages, planned immense cities, created sophisticated works of art, fashion and architecture, plus were excellent at agriculture and science. These major groups and their lesser known sub-groups ruled over a network of societies that ranged from South America into the areas we call Texas, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado. Unfortunately the Spaniards came to conquer them. To obliterate their culture. Replace their languages with Spanish and exploit them and their lands on every level. They were extremely successful in this due to superior weapons, the introduction of disease, and blatant deception. They ultimately claimed these lands as the property of Spain. 
A 20 Peso bill from 1933   
A 100 Peso bill from 1981   
A 100 Peso bill from 1999.   
A 50 Peso bill from 1948.    
After a sequence of wars, revolutions, and invasions from France and the United States the country of modern Mexico emerged. Mexico now asserts itself as major cultural and economical player in the Western world. It is a tourist destination for people worldwide and a cultural force in the region. Its economic importance is growing rapidly to created a more valuable Peso. The past dominance of the Spaniards has resulted in this culture having a rich Hispanic flavor to it.  
These are various images that are associated with Mexico and its people. Images such as these tell us different things about a culture as well as its landscape. The visual arts plays a major role in the lives of most Mexicans. How would you interpret these images? What would you expect of Mexico based on them? What stories do they seem to tell and why?   REVIEW QUESTIONS:
 1. Where is Mexico located?
2. Why do most Mexicans speak Spanish?
3. Using the Four-Step process critique one of the pesos presented on this page.
4. Name two of the original cultures of Mexico.
Design your own peso using several of the images displayed on this page.
Your new peso should have front, back, and its money value indicated.
Petro power around the hour!!!!!!!!!! 
The oil rich country of Saudi Arabia is the only country named after a family. The House or family of Saud rule this nation with a monarchy that is based on the traditions of Islam. This country is a vast oil rich nation which is also the home of two of the most important places in the Islamic world. These are the cities of Mecca and Medina. This land is the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed. Millions of Muslims from around the world make the religious pilgrimage to Mecca. This creates an incredible exchange of economic and cultural influences. They have some one the most productive oil wells in the world. Saudi Arabia is the largest nation in the mid-east. Its people are called Arabs.
1. To learn about the design aspects of the money used in Saudi Arabia.
2.To have a sense of the history and cultural importance of this country.
3. You will critique and design your own Riyal.    
The currency of Saudi Arabia is called the Riyal. You will notice that the Arabs have their own writing and number system.   The Saudis are a major cultural force in the mid-east. Their cultural ideas have covered every aspect of life. This includes medicine, the arts, politics, science, and religion. As with all cultures, its printed currencies depict the legacy and values of these people.    
You may notice that the Riyal looks similar to the design of a rug. 
Review Questions:
1. Where is the country of Saudi Arabia located?
2. What is the currency of Saudi Arabia called?
3. What is the most important cultural and religious aspect of Saudi Arabia?
4. Using the Four Step process, critique one of the samples of Saudi currency shown on this page.
Studio Assignment:
Design your own version of this currency using any of the elements that were used in the money shown on this page. 
This is a geopolitical map of the continent of Africa. It show the national boundaries
of every country on the African continent. Each country has its own type of money
that is designed to meet its cultural and commercial needs.
Nigeria is the most populated country in all of Africa. It has more people than any African nation, in fact nearly one fourth of all Africans are Nigerian. This country is very rich in almost every useful mineral and once had a very prosperous farm system as well. While it was not too affected by the Atlantic slave trade it was a British Protectorate which was a type of autonomous colonial system. Once it became independent from England it had to come to terms with the fact that it contained three major cultural groups. These are the Yoruba, the Hausa, and Ibo ethnic groups. The Yoruba became the dominate political and military group yet the Ibo lived on the oil rich lands called the River state. The major oil companies encouraged the Ibo people to secede from the Nigerian nation and declare themselves a unique independent nation called Biafra. This led to a very nasty war. Miraculously this war ended with no declared victor; Biafra was dissolved and the River state area was restored as a part of the Nigerian country. 
1. To learn about the design aspects of Nigerian money that linked its British influence to its African culture.
2. To understand the nationalism that the state of Biafra used to declare itself a unique nation.
3. To see how the reunited nation of Nigeria uses its currency to institutionalize its national profile and cultural icons.
4. To design a Naira based on selected Nigerian or African images and ideas.
Present day Nigeria is and oil and mineral rich African democracy that calls its currency the Naira.   
A 50 Kobo Note.   
A 5 Shilling Note from Biafra in 1967.   
A One Pound Nigerian Note from 1967.   
 A 50 Naira note.
These images show some visual expressions fromNigeria.
1. Where is the nation of Nigeria located?
2. List the names of the types of monies that have been used by the people of Nigeria.
3. What European nation was the colonial ruler of Nigeria?
4. Using the Four Step critique process write a critique of the Naira.
Design your own Naira. Feel free to use a combination of African, Nigerian, or contemporary images. This should include front and back designs. You should use various drawing materials or any digial process.
( Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for related links, information, and credits. This site and its images were produced for educational purposes. The contents should not be printed or used for commercial reasons. )
This visual learning exercise will provide you with the understanding of terms, processes, and words that are essential to completing this process while enhancing your interdisciplinary cognition.
The terms on this page are presented in alphabetical order. At the bottom of the page there is a list of links where you can find more information about the countries and currencies discussed in the lessons.
PLEASE NOTE: All of the assignments in this site may be completed at your pace, on lined paper or unlined drawing paper using apporpriate writing and drawing supplies based on your preference.
Art Element and Art Principles-These are the basic components that are combined to create works of art. The elements of art are line, color, space, value, shape, form, while the principles are balance, emphasis, proportion, variety, movement, unity, and rhythm.
The British Empire -At one point in history England was the ruler of so many countries around the world that the British would boast that the sun never sets in the British Empire. These were countries found were found on every continent and included every cultural/racial group. The English were involved in everything from the Atlantic Slave Trade to the conquest of China. This vast colonial system finally broke done in the early to mid 20th century. The legacy of this is how many countries now use the English language as its basic language in cultural and business affairs.
Classical -A period when standards emphasized an institutionalized in the creation and appreciation of various artforms and practices.
Conquistador –Military leaders from Spain who took part in the conquest of the New World in the 16th century. The name is frequently used to mean any daring, ruthless adventurer. Among the most famous conquistadors are Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru, and Herman Cortés, the conqueror of Mexico.
Critique-To have standards for evaluation that can be objectively applied based on a accepted criterion.
Design -To arrange materials and design aspects to enhance the visual impact or expressive qualities of an image or concept.
Engraving -This is a process where the image is created on a plate that is used by a special machine called a printing press, to create multiple images for wide distribution. The images are usually created in the reverse of how they will look once printed.
Four Step Process- There are four steps commonly used to critique visual art. They are description, analysis, interpretation, and judgement. First you describe the art as it actually looks. Next you analyze it using art elements and principles to indicate its design content. Than you should state what the artist is saying and what you derive from the work of art. Finally you should give your opinion as to rather this work of art is successful or not, and why. You should be able to write two or three sentences for each step.
Geo-political- This means the combination of geography and political boundaries or influences. This is usually done to provide an overlapping view of a country, its terrain, and its resources.
Hausa –an African ethnic group, numbering about 23 million, found chiefly in northern Nigeria and southern Niger. The Hausa are almost exclusively Muslim and practice agriculture. Their widespread trading activities have contributed to making their language a universal communication device in much of Western Africa. In earlier times the Hausa were organized in the Hausa States. Long the vassals of Bornu, the states were conquered by the Songhay in 1513 and by the Fulani in the early 19th century. In colonial Nigeria the traditional Hausa-Fulani social and political structure was largely maintained under the British policy of indirect rule. The Hausa remain a major force in Nigerian politics.
Hellenistic-A period in Greek art when the inner emotions of a person were more important than beauty to the artists.
Ibo (or Igbo) -one of the largest ethnic groups in Nigeria, deriving mainly from southeastern Nigeria, numbering around 15 million. Originally settled in many autonomous villages, the Ibo nevertheless had a sense of cultural unity and the ability to unite for political action. They were receptive to Christianity and education under British colonialism and missionary influence. The Ibo became heavily represented in professional, managerial, technical, and commercial occupations, and many migrated to other regions of Nigeria. They played a major role in securing Nigerian independence from Britain in 1960. During the political conflict in 1966, thousands of Ibo immigrants were killed in the northern region, home of the Muslim Hausa and Fulani. Many Ibo fled to their eastern homeland, which seceded from Nigeria in 1967, calling itself the Republic of Biafra. Civil war followed, and, by 1970, Biafra was defeated.
Islam –Islam is a major world religion founded by the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century. A person who believes in the teachings of Muhammad (Islam) is a called a Muslim (which is an Arabic word with means “one who submits”). There are more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide.
Kabuki -one of Japan's traditional stage arts along with Noh, Kyôgen and Bunraku. It is said to have originated in the seventeenth century when it was first performed by the female dancer Izumo-no-Okuni and her troupe in Kyotô. Kabuki is characterized by its stylized acting, its gorgeous costumes and its spectacular scale. However, the features which spring most readily to mind in connection with kabuki are probably the mawari-butai, or revolving stage, the violent makeup of the aragoto actor, and the oyama, or female roles, played by male actors.
Mecca – A city in Saudi Arabia which was the birthplace (around the year A.D. 570) of Muhammad the Prophet. It is the holiest city of Islam, and the goal of the annual Muslim hajj (pilgrimage). The city was an ancient center of commerce and a place of great sanctity for Arab sects before the rise of Muhammad. Muhammad’s flight (the Hegira) from Mecca in 622 is the beginning of the rise of Islam.
Money -The medium of exchange for goods, services, and investments. Money or currency is created by governments to facilitate trade and commerce at every level. In modern times we use paper and coins as our accepted forms of money.
Muslim -a person who has embraced Islam, a follower of Muhammad.
Samurai -The knights of feudal Japan, retainers of the great feudal landholders of Japan (daimyo). This aristocratic warrior class arose during the 12th-century wars between the Taira and Minamoto clans and was consolidated in the Tokugawa period. Samurai were privileged to wear two swords, and at one time had the right to cut down any commoner who offended them. They cultivated the martial virtues, indifference to pain or death, the creative arts and unfailing loyalty to their overlords.
Visual Art -Two or three dimensional expressive works that were created for pleasure or communication. This would include drawings, painting, carpets, textiles, photography, computer graphics, animation, illustration, relief, and sculptures.
Yoruba –the ethnic group of people of southwestern Nigeria and Benin, numbering about 20 million. The Yoruba are unusual in Africa in their tendency to form urban communities. Today many of the large cities in Nigeria (including Lagos, Ibadan, and Abeokuta ) are in Yoruba land. The old Yoruba kingdom of Oyo was traditionally one of the largest states of West Africa. It dominated both Benin and Dahomey, but after 1700 its power slowly waned. At the beginning of the 19th century Fulani invasions, slave raids from Dahomey, and the growing contact with Europeans divided the Yoruba into a number of small states. In the second half of the 19th century the Yoruba gradually fell under British control, and they were under direct British administration from 1893 until 1960. Yoruba religion includes a variety of gods. Vestiges of Yoruba culture are also found in Brazil and Cuba, where Yoruba were imported as African slaves.
Yucatán –a peninsula mostly in southeastern Mexico, separating the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico. It comprises the states of Yucatán, Campeche , and Quintana Roo, Mexico; Belize; and part of Guatemala. Centuries before the arrival of the Spanish, Yucatán was the seat of the great Mayan civilization. The inhabitants today are predominantly the modern descendants of the Maya.
Japanese Yen
Greek Drachma
Mexican Pesos
Saudia Arabia Riyal
Nigerian Naira
The maps and samples of currencies were lifted from Ron Wise's Geographical Directory of World Paper Money at http:www./aes.iup/.edu/rwise/ntedir/mappage.html
Scroll pass the "Money, Money, Money" assignments for more on bringing graphic novels into the classroom.Educators and students are encouraged to remix and apply the samples and activities presented on this section, The Rhythmistic Curriculum.

Comic Books and Popular Culture

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Chapter 1 Introduction,

Chapter 2 Popular Culture and the Comic Book,  

Chapter 3 Cutting up Comics: Re-drawing and Re-reading, 

Chapter 4 Reading Performances as Social Participation,

Chapter 5 Expert Comic Book Readers: More than a Subculture,

Chapter 6 Conclusion

Chapter 1:


Comic book reading is an act of social participation. I will refer to what I call the “expert reader” as an exemplary and representative figure. I assume in this regard that reading comics seriously is not qualitatively different from casual reading. Through their omnipresence and availability alone, comic books possess the ability to remind us of the fundamentally social nature of culture. But there is something about their structure as objects, the relationship between image, text, and layout, that defies the ordinary notion of reading as an isolated act in which the reader gives herself exclusively to an autonomous content through the text. Reading a comic book extends the act and the reader into popular culture in a way that I conceive of as collective and performative, and it is this that Fantastic Reading is intended to make explicit. The book strategically places the comic book at the center of contemporary debates about culture. It begins with the assumption that comic books are instances or tokens of popular culture and, as such, they are both unbounded and multi-dimensional. In order to clarify this, I discuss five basic ideas that reflect recent changes in the theory and method of cultural studies: (1) culture is generative rather than a sedimentation of the past; (2) participation in popular culture involves an active engagement with its objects (which are in principle open and shareable); (3) active engagement with cultural objects of this sort is continuous with being cultural as well as social; (4) the comic book form has properties that are intrinsically motivating; (5) expert readers are representative of how comic books are typically read but they are also exemplary of the norm implicit in the reading of comic books.

Most would now agree that the cultural significance of comic books has been underestimated and misunderstood by traditional criticism that assumes an independent and rational standard of evaluation demonstrated largely through institutional and financial support and by the consensus among traditional critics. Fantastic Reading considers the comic book as an example of the generative and creative properties of culture which are features that are only intelligible if reading is performative and if the object is capable of being an object of performativity. Reframing the idea of culture in this way and in this regard allows us to examine the structural features of intrinsically performative objects such as comic books. This begins with an identification of the qualities of comic books that give them their special social and cultural significance, through a detailed description and analysis of examples. Writings of and inter-views with comic book artists and accounts of instances of reading by expert readers are supplemented by several thought experiments having to do with modifying structure and exploring the implications of various modifications for reading.

Analysis of the comic book as a destabilizing object that embodies and elicits the social allows me to show how reading can be an act of participation in the culturally generative process of confirming the social aspect of life. Fantastic Reading focuses on the transformations that have taken place in our concepts of culture and the popular and on how the cultural object must be thought of according to the idea that culture is both generative and popularly engaging in a social way. Reading comic books is, in a sense, object-driven and essentially dialogical. Readers regularly reference other texts, figures, events, and the like from past, present, and future, and they apparently do this while reading and not only when reporting on reading. That is one way in which the reading of comic books can be understood as socially participatory. Another, and perhaps more important, way involves analyzing the structure of the comic book in order to show what about it inevitably constitutes a participatory aspect of the activity of reading. I illustrate this through close readings of comic books, experiments involving redrawing and rereading portions of them, and interviews with readers in the midst of reading. The idea that reading comic books is essentially dialogical challenges the claim that one can distinguish between high and low culture on the grounds that each requires a different degree of seriousness or that the value of one is superior to the value of the other. Popular culture, which is now thought of in cultural studies as neither high nor low, is socially reflexive and, as I hope to show, is “one of the sites where this struggle for and against the struggle for and against a culture of the powerful is engaged…. It is partly where hegemony arises, and where it is secured” (Stuart Hall). I qualify this by arguing that the most significant mean-ing of “a culture of the powerful” is a strictly individualistic culture in which performativity has no place.

Chapter 2:

Popular Culture and the Comic Book.

Comic books are popular texts which facilitate participation in the generative aspect of culture and constitute an experience of sociality at the level of the individual. Chapter one provides the reader with an overview of the conceptual frameworks utilized in Fantastic Reading and introduces the following theoretical concepts: popular culture, culture, the popular, and the social. It presents a short history of the debates around the use of these concepts, leading to a discussion of culture as a generative course of activity. Among the theorists addressed are Thompson, Bakhtin, Butler, Burke, Hall, Samuel, and Shiach. Their writings differ from the earlier model of culture as the fixed sedimentation of tradition (Parsons, Bell). Structural-functionalists such as Talcott Parsons present culture as a relatively stable institution based on shared values and meanings. Culture viewed within this framework is a conservative force based on tradition (Parsons, Bell). The framework is, however, overly general and fails to account for the fluidity and the disruptive qualities of culture which allow for a more positive view of popular culture in the constitution of society. Logically, it follows that a theory of culture that does not seriously address the role of the popular in society will not leave room for a serious discussion of popular mobilizations and social movements.

Conversely, if one no longer conceives of culture as a totality of relatively fixed shared values and meanings and as essentially inert, then the types of activities deemed appropriate as objects of cultural studies must be intrinsically more ambiguous than had been thought, and the types of ambiguity they manifest must be the sort which sustains activity, which promotes difference and engages forms of participation and pleasure. Fantastic Reading begins from the premise that the activity of culture is one that places the ideas of participation and identity at the center, viewing the reading of comic books as an instance of participation. This said, if reading comic books is participation in the social, then the comic book itself must have properties that facilitate participation and I explore these properties in a way that allows me to rethink the nature of cultural artifacts. The comic book looks very different when framed according to a generative view of culture. Following the lead of comic book artists, this analysis moves away from the high art/low art debate and instead focuses on the unique features of comic books and the ways in which those features come together to create the comic book (McCloud, Eisner, Carrier).

Earlier conceptions of comic books have focused on the hybrid qualities of the comic book, drawing comparisons to film, literature, and paintings. However, more recent explorations by comic book writers, artists, and critics argue for a medium unto its own, positing that comic books and graphic novels inhabit their own space within the world of literature and visual representations. Fantastic Reading explores in some detail the properties of comic books that suggest that this is true, focusing on both literary and visual properties. Furthermore, these features facilitate a certain type of reading in people who truly engage the object.

Chapter 3:

Cutting up Comics:

Re-drawing and Re-reading.
As a form of popular culture, the comic book compels expert comic book readers to partake in the social, to constitute sociality. Moving from artifact of the comic book to the process of reading comic books, this chapter analyzes reading through an experimental ‘cut and paste’ method to highlight the unique elements of the comic book and the ways in which these elements impact the process of reading and ultimately, of participation.

Fantastic Reading highlights the fact that reading comic books needs to be understood in terms of the history and qualities of comic books and the nature of reading something with that history and those qualities. As I show in this chapter, the combination of text and image engenders a reading process that has momentum yet is constantly disrupting itself. This disruption is facilitated by technical aspects of the medium which include elements specific to comic books – such as panel-to-panel transitions, placement of text, style of lettering, etc. In addition to these aspects, the distinctive combination of the visual, textual and narrative in comic books allows for a different type of reading, a reading which provides for an increased recognition of process and of the hand of the artist (Eisner, McCloud, Harvey).
In this chapter, I redraw pages from comic books to allow the reader to join me in “stopping time” to look at the process of reading comic books. When people read comics, they engage the space between the materiality of images and the thought-provoking linearity of text and connect with the tension intrinsic to this space. A manipulation of panel-to-panel changes and the accompanying analyses bring about a heightened awareness of the steps involved in reading comic books and consequently, facilitate the exploration of a conception of culture as creative, active, and fluid. As comic book artists have known for years, the reader has little choice but to create and recreate the narrative from panel to panel (McCloud).

The special characteristics of the comic, the contradictory elements that motivate read-ing, allow one to say that it is a process of continual re-ordering. The reader becomes increasingly involved in dealing with the ambiguities and other such tensions which are inherent in the object, drawing upon their own personal histories to make sense of their readings. Specifically, the comic book reader is implicated in a kind of dialectic in which visual associations and linear narration interact, producing thought processes realized only at the point at which what is read joins what is practiced beyond mere reading, in the social reflexivity of popular culture.

Chapter 4:

Reading Performances as Social Participation.

Expert comic book readers approach comic book reading as an active form of social participation. In Fantastic Reading, expert comic book readers are defined as readers with a sustained history of comic book reading, reading at least a book a week for the past two years. This chapter focuses on the uncontainable and multi-directional process of participation in popular culture, through an analysis of the ‘reading performances’ of several experts. As part of a longer, in-depth inter-view, expert comic book readers were asked to read aloud, to perform a reading of selected texts. Their performances allow us to reexamine the process of reading, and ultimately, the process of participation, through the framework of the comic book.

An exploration of what happens when people read comic books must also ask why we should stop to look at this process. There is something aesthetically pleasing and intensely social involved in reading comic books which occurs in the connection between a subject (the expert comic book reader) and a seemingly fixed object (the comic book). Fantastic Reading posits that three major areas account for the pleasure and semblance of sociality: the everyday social accessibility of comic books; the freedom they have as a conventionally degraded art form; and the creative reading that the medium requires of its readers. The activity that occurs when people engage artifacts of popular culture such as the comic book is not oriented merely by consumption but also by a desire for participation. The reader’s engagement takes the form of an interaction which is responsive not just to a fixed form and content but, takes the form of an attraction to the destabilizing features and intrinsic ambiguities of the object. This tension is explored through an analysis of reading performances by expert comic book readers.

Subsequent to the performances, the readers interviewed were asked to reflect upon their own readings and the different types of readings they produced. This is illustrated through an analysis of the kinds of comments readers made about the process of reading a comic book in the midst of reading it and upon reflection. Expert comic book readers discuss their own readings in ways that highlight their awareness of the social nature of comic book reading, making connections to other texts, new forms of social media, people, peer groups, and social gatherings. In providing details of their own reading histories and reading processes, the expert comic book readers in Fantastic Reading illustrate the multi-directional nature of this social and cultural activity.

Chapter 5:

Expert Comic Book Readers:

Expert comic book readers are active cultural participants in society, exhibiting complex and varied interests and social connections. This chapter shows that participants in popular culture -such as comic book readers – have been depicted in numerous ways. The polar ends of these depictions come from radically different schools of thought. At one extreme is the image of the comic book reader as a passive recipient of mass culture (Rosenberg and White). The opposite extreme provides a more positive and active depiction of the relationship between popular culture and politics, based on the notions of subculture and resistance (Hebdige, Hall et al (eds.)). In Fantastic Reading, comic book readers are depicted as multi-dimensional, moving beyond the mass society literature while avoiding reducing participation in popular culture to politics and the romanticization inherent in sub cultural depictions.

In general, the comic book readers I interviewed tend to be highly intelligent and articulate and to have diverse interests. They made aesthetic connections between what is typically viewed as high culture (Monet, Handel, and Miles Davis) and what is viewed as low culture (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek, and Batman). Above all, it was evident that these were readers in all senses of the word and that much of their time is spent sharing that experience, discussing and making sense of what they have been reading. They read in anticipation of discussion with book clubs, work colleagues, classmates, fellow comic book readers, and other active members of society.

Chapter 6:


From the outset, the comic book was framed as a cultural artifact that facilitates social participation. Comic book reading represents a location where the process of culture is evident, where activity is driven by both its object(s) and its subject(s). Focused attention on interactions with such objects allows one to see culture as a generative activity involving an ongoing reconciliation of a multiplicity of orientations.

The conception of culture identified with cultural studies requires an analysis of cultural objects which reveals their essentially dialogical character and Fantastic Reading shows that reading comic books can be said to be intrinsically social even during its ostensibly solitary moments. Through the analysis of comic books, comic book reading, and comic book readers, I further the conversation on definitions of culture, the popular, and ultimately, the social. The act of reading comic books is effectively an act of participation in a greater cultural process; an act of maintaining the social contract (Saussure).

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ONLI STUDIOS worked with students and teachers at the Chicago Youth Center for the Marwen Foundation, to produce this "Water Fun" themed float for the Annual "Bud Biliken" parade in Chicago.

Above is a picture from a recent ONLI STUDIOS workshop in Chicago. The students were learning to create narrative visual art based on cultural icons.
Students sharing the fun, power and impact of combining words and images for a positive cultural expression.
ONLI STUDIOS presenting at the Chicago Children's Museum.

Our programs provide all educators with the tools and concepts to bring the positive impact of the visual arts modality to any classroom, across the curriculum, for every student.

The image above from the "Godzilla Narratives" was taken during our workshop at the recent Harold Washington Library of Chicago's CPL Teen Services Conference.
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