Cultural Perspectives: The Colour Wheel Goes to the Bahamas
Is the Colour Wheel International?
I often wonder if “colour wheel mentality” is limited to western tradition, or if colour schemes – like McDonalds – have become global and, if so, do they now override cultural traditions in other countries? This week, I’ll share what I learned about certain Caribbean traditions. When we analyze Bahamian colours and symbols, we can deepen our understanding of cultural differences. When we comprehend how and why these colours and symbols are used, we can incorporate this information into our own work when appropriate.
A Geographic Perspective on Colour
Junior Junkanoo Girls in Nassau (photograph by author)
I’m an enthusiastic cheerleader for traditional colour schemes that evolve from the colour wheel, because these schemes work to elicit fairly predictable responses from viewers. But, do these schemes work worldwide? If not, where can we find examples of artistic difference that would help us compare a western artistic heritage against another point of view?
The opportunity to learn answers to the above questions became available to me in December 2004, when I participated in a three-week history/anthropology/archaeology course in New Providence and San Salvador islands in the Bahamas. During this trip, I experienced the Junkanoo, a tradition that incorporates a seeming rainbow of colours in its presentation. Before we look at Junkanoo, however, a little information about Bahamian culture will help us understand how these people use colour and why this usage differs from some western concepts.
Linda Goin carries a B.F.A. in visual communications with a minor in business and marketing, and an M.A. in American History with a minor in the Reformation. While the latter degree doesn't seem to fit with the first two educational experiences, Linda used her 25-year design expertise on site at archaeological digs and in the study of material culture. Now she uses her education and experiences in creating social media environments.
Accolades for her work include fifteen first-place Colorado Press Association awards, numerous fine art and graphic design awards, and interviews about content development with The Wall St. Journal, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, and L.A. Times.