Colorful paper, wooden sticks, hot glue guns and skeins of multicolored yarn were in use at an event inside University Hall on Wednesday where students constructed stringed puppets.
UTA’s Anthropology Club hosted the event as part of their Italian American Heritage Month celebration meeting where the group discussed Italian anthropology and current research, ate ravioli and made their own marionettes — anthropologist style.
Club Vice President Ciara Mason brought her preprepared dog marionette to the meeting, complete with black paper cylinders serving as its head and body, strings as its legs and four yellow paws.
“We’re going to try and make a really crude puppet,” said Mason at the start of the meeting. “And I’m not going to give you guys any instructions.”
The other members of the club were then tasked with recreating the marionette’s structure with creations ranging from a blue fish to a bright green mannequin.
Mason said the activity tied into anthropology because it’s similar to what experimental anthropologists do to uncover how early people made things like hammers or weapons.
“We take things that we’re already aware of for granted,” Mason said. “Whereas anthropologists have to occasionally overcome barriers and the fact that there is no historical record.”
Mason said she’s a big believer in the “everything is anthropology” mind-set, and finding creative yet simple ways to teach others about anthropology is why the group decided to make marionettes.
Geology senior Sally Abdalgadir said Wednesday’s meeting was her first, and that she’d always wanted to attend but never had the chance. She said the fun activities convinced her to attend future meetings — along with having an interest in anthropology.
“I never knew that I wanted to make a marionette until today,” she said.
Mason said the group just wants to share anthropology with people, and a lot of people don’t actually know what anthropology is and what all its subcategories entail.
“They don’t realize that a big part of anthropology is archaeology, which is separate from paleontology, which also confuses people,” Mason said.
According to Merriam-Webster, anthropology is the study of human beings and their ancestors, whereas archaeology is the study of material remains like pottery and tools, and paleontology is the study of fossil remains, like dinosaurs.
Club President River Riveras said that anthropology is a very diverse field and that his main interest within the subject is archaeology.
“Since coming to UTA, I’ve kind of just been like a train, just railroading down the pathway of archaeology,” Riveras said.
Riveras said he didn’t know exactly what anthropology was until he was a sophomore, even though he was always interested in archaeology. He found out that archaeology was still something students could pursue, and that anthropology was the way to do that.
“Anthropology as a whole encompasses a bunch of different sciences, as well as history or things like that,” Riveras said. “Anyone could be interested in it. They might just not know that they’re interested in it.”
Riveras said because anthropology isn’t widely known, he would love if more people came to their meetings and experienced some of what the club has to offer.
“The more people who learn about exactly what anthropology is, the better,” Riveras said.
Encompassing many different interests in their themed meetings has really helped grow the club this semester, Riveras said. When he walked into Wednesday’s event, he said he was stunned at how many people showed up.
Two weeks ago, the club celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by eating empanadas and discussing Hispanic archaeology, Riveras said. The next meeting will be the club’s Halloween bake sale.
Riveras added that he thinks having a variety of foods has helped with club attendance.
“Before this we were doing pizza every meeting, and that only goes so far in bringing people in,” Riveras said.
Miranda Berry-Kopriva, anthropology senior and club historian, said the goal of the club is to teach people about what anthropology is and to spread the word about why it’s important, but in a fun way.
“It’s more hands on, getting people talking to each other about how to make a marionette like how a experimental archaeologist would,” Berry-Kopriva said.
The Anthropology Club meets every other week in University Hall Room 009, Mason said.
Riveras said that as president, he didn’t want to make the club seem like it was just another class where students have to learn about anthropology.
“If you’re even slightly interested in the field, come check us out,” Riveras said. “You might make friends, might have fun and might realize that it’s a career you might want to follow.”