Culture Cube

By CJ Mitchell, Community Access Manager

Have you ever thought about documenting a custom or tradition that you share culturally with community, friends, or family? As time passes, we sometimes lose sight of the important significance of a particular custom or tradition. Alia Farid’s film At the Time of the Ebb (2019) documents a period of time for a community in Qeshm, an island described as looking like an arrow found in the Persian Gulf, near the Strait of Hormuz, between Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Farid takes the viewer on an intimate journey of the Nowruz Sayadeen, the Fisherman’s New Year, that takes place annually during the summer solstice. It is a time when the fisherman in the community don’t fish and the community abstains from eating fish as well. We experience the richness of this community’s music, dance, the traditional rituals that embody this festival through At the Time of the Ebb (2019). We may not all be able to create a documentary film about our own cultural traditions, but through a similar process of creating art we can share the significant aspects of these customs with others. In this art activity we will make a culture cube. Each plane on the cube will document important aspects of significant celebration to community and culture, offering an opportunity to engage and exchange with others.

Ages: Grades 3–12+ (8 years–Adult)

Time It Takes: 45-60 minutes

What We Are Going To Do:

  • Three-Dimensional Sculpture
  • Collage
  • Drawings

You’ll Need: 

  • Cube Template
  • Poster Board or cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Printed Images
  • Magazines
  • Construction/Colored or Printed Paper
  • Drawings
  • Optional: Mod podge

Before We Start: 

Let’s watch the video At the Time of Ebb by Alia Farid

The video chronicles the Fisherman’s New Year in Qeshm. We experience different aspects of the festival, from inside of a community space, through the open dusty land of fields, to where the wet sandy beaches meet the sea. We hear the voices of the community, we hear the blowing of the winds, the beat of the drums and the sea waves hitting the shore on the beach. 

ALIA FARID, AT THE TIME OF THE EBB (still), 2019,Single-channel video loop, stereo sound, 15:43 minutes. Commissioned by 
Sharjah Art Foundation. Courtesy the artist.

Think About

  • What objects or articles do you think are important for their cultural celebration? 
  • Who all participates in the celebration?
  • Can you think of a cultural celebration similar to the Fisherman’s New Year that you celebrate?
  • What differences can you find between your cultural celebration and the Fisherman’s New Year?

Art Activity

  1. Make a list of things that are culturally significant to a specific holiday or traditions that your family and friends celebrate. Some topics to consider are the food, arts, activities, clothing, values, and hobbies associated with that custom or tradition. Once decided, make sure you have at least 6 topics, one for each side of the cube.     
  1. Construct your cube or use one of our templates to print out. Click here for an 8.5×11 template. Click here for an 11×17 template.
  1. Then cut it out and trace it on poster board or cardboard. 
  1. Then cut out the cube from the board.  Then take the ruler and draw in the lines for the folds and creases at the appropriate places. 
  1. Now cut the cube from the board.  Then make the folds or creases at the appropriate places. 
  1. Take the glue and put it on the tabs that will be glued together to form the cube. Tape can also be used to hold the glue sides together until they hold. 
  1. Get your items like drawings, images, words, printed paper together that you are going to glue onto the cube.  
  1. Cut out the images, drawings and paper. Then begin gluing your items onto each side of the cube.  For example, start with an image of the tradition and then move forward to other sides of the cube with the specific topics related to that custom or tradition. 
  1. Once you have all of the sides of the cube covered.  Now take the labels,words or words you wrote out and glue them on each side of the cube with the related images. 
  1. Once everything you want on the cube is placed, you are finished. As an optional step, a layer of mod podge can be added to give it a finished look.