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World Weavers Virtual Gallery Opening

April 29, 2021 @ 7:00 pm

Virtual Event

Join us Thursday, April 29 for an exciting Virtual Gallery Opening that takes a deep dive into one of our residency programs: The World Weavers Project!

Click here to watch on YouTube>>

Visit the interactive Virtual Gallery here>>

The World Weavers Project is a visual arts residency combining design, history, and visual learning; young people gain knowledge of art elements and how to apply them to storytelling by studying textile design. Youth learn how folklore has been depicted in rugs for centuries, then take a field trip to the Minasian Rug Company to view rugs from around the world. They then design their own textile artworks. In partnership with ARZU Studio Hope, a non-profit in Afghanistan which seeks to break the cycle of poverty for women, winning student designs are chosen during each cycle of the program to be made into hand-knotted rugs and returned to the school.

Take a tour of our Virtual Gallery, visit different virtual rooms to learn about our partnership with Minasian Rug Company and ARZU as well as view youth-designed rugs from the last seven years.

See something you like? There are eight student-designed, custom-made rugs currently available for purchase directly from the Minasian Rug Company. The rugs are created out of ARZU Studio Hope, a social enterprise that seeks to empower Afghan women through artisan-based employment. Each ARZU rug for sale is roughly 4 ft x 6 ft, and also has a twin rug that is displayed in program partner schools Stone Academy and McCutcheon Elementary (both in Chicago).

100% of student-designed rug sales go to Urban Gateways in support of our mission to engage young people in arts experiences to inspire creativity and impact social change. If you would like to see the rugs for sale up close and in person, you can contact the Minasian Rug Company at 847-492-1800 to schedule an appointment.

Click here to watch on YouTube>>

Visit the interactive Virtual Gallery here>>

Pictured: Students at Stone Academy during a World Weavers residency program in fall 2015 – as well as Stone Academy winning rug designs woven into reality by ARZU Studio Hope. Scroll for more information about the World Weavers Project!

Thanks to our partners:

ARZU Studio Hope

More about the World Weavers Project:

After acquiring Art Resources in Teaching (A.R.T.) in 2013, Urban Gateways learned of the World Weavers Program.  In 1996, Armen Minasian (owner of Minasian Rug Company in Evanston, Illinois) met Tomie dePaola (world famous author and illustrator of children’s books) on a plane. When Armen learned of Tomie’s book The Legend of the Persian Carpet, Armen wanted to bring the book to life for the children of Chicago. Teaching Artist Bill Eller came up with the idea of having children design carpets to learn about different cultures while engaging in art, and arts residencies were set up in three schools in Chicago. Tomie dePaola visited each school and read the story to the students in conjunction with Bill teaching them the history of rug making throughout the world and how to design rugs. The students then competed to have their design made into an actual rug, with the winning rugs being showcased in the windows of Marshall Field’s Department Store. The program only lasted for one year, but Urban Gateways hired Bill Eller after acquiring A.R.T. and reinstated the World Weavers Program during the 2014-15 school year. It continues to this day.

Now-retired Urban Gateways Teaching Artist Bill Eller designed the curriculum for this innovative program that incorporates cross-cultural learning alongside the principles of art and design, expanding a school’s traditional visual art classroom into a school community gallery and interdisciplinary studio space. Students receive geometric art and textile instruction, closely examining the historical evolution, cultural heritage, and traditional skills of carpet weaving, tapestries, and rugs from around the world. 

Identifying rug design elements and symbols unique to each culture, participants create small-scale pieces to express their artistic vision and brainstorm ideas for creating their own rug. By the end of the program, one student’s design is chosen to be made into a hand-knotted rug by ARZU Studio Hope and given to the school at the beginning of the next school year. A field trip to the Minasian Rug Company occurs within the residency to support real world connections to artistic content. The program also includes ongoing professional development to support the classroom art teacher in expanding the school’s visual arts curriculum, as well as parent participation in exhibition events to sustain and celebrate artistic and cultural connections for the school community. 

For the past several years, Urban Gateways has been providing World Weavers residency programs for 6th graders at Stone Elementary Scholastic Academy (a school where 26 languages are spoken by the student body and the Parent Handbook is also translated in Urdu) in Rogers Park. The program recently expanded with 6th graders from McCutcheon Elementary in Uptown. The program is provided at no cost to the schools. 

During a field trip to Minasian Rug Company as part of World Weavers, a young girl from Stone Academy asked Carney Minasian if he knew of a small town in Turkey. When Carney said he knew it well, the young girl was delighted because that is where her grandmother lives. Stories like this showcase how the World Weavers Program helps build artistic and cultural connections for young people.

Thanks to our World Weavers Virtual Gallery sponsors:

Thank you to the Alice Welsh Skilling Foundation for sponsoring the World Weavers Virtual Gallery in Alice’s memory; she was instrumental in supporting the World Weavers Program when it began under Art Resources in Teaching.


April 29, 2021
7:00 pm


Virtual Event