World Weavers complete rug designs at Stone Academy

By Bill Eller, Teaching Artist

This entry is a follow-up to Bill Eller’s October 22 post introducing the World Weavers project – read his earlier post HERE. >>

In early October I kicked off a wonderful new residency for Stone Elementary Scholastic Academy 6th graders that incorporated cross-cultural learning alongside visual and textile arts. During a family night at this West Rogers Park school on October 2, a dozen rugs of all sizes from different parts of the world filled the gymnasium, brought in by the Minasian Rug Company of Evanston. Students and their families had a chance to see and touch carpets up close and ask questions, providing the perfect hands-on introduction to the cultures, designs, and concepts we would discuss in my class.

During the two-month residency students scanned and analyzed rugs, and discussed the cultures where the rugs came from. They also discussed the elements of art (line, shape, color, texture, and value), the principles of design of balance, and how to use symmetry in art.

On October 23, the students were able to supplement their learning with a field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago to see the artwork of master weaver Ethel Stein in the Textile Gallery. They also viewed textiles in the Indian Art of the Americas and African Cultures Galleries, and European Tapestries in the Arms and Amour Gallery.

Back at Stone Academy, all the more inspired after their field trip, students came up with a number of ideas for rug designs. Their first assignment was to make a symmetrical design using construction paper stripes.

For their second assignment, students only used squares in their symmetrical designs (materials were color pencils on 1-inch grid paper).

After also experimenting with tile designs using right angle triangles, learning about borders, and more, students spent the last six classes coming up with their final rug design plan, creating a carpet design on 12 inches x 18 inches, ¼ inch grid paper with color pencils. Many students even asked if they could take their designs home to work on as homework.

On December 11, the completed student artwork went on exhibit in the 1st floor hallway during the school’s A Winter Celebration of the Arts Night. At the opening I had a chance to talk with many parents of the students that had participated in the project. They all told me that their children had enjoyed the residency and everything they had learned. Everyone couldn’t get over how much variety there was between all the rug designs.

By Christmas, all designs will be taken down and brought to the Minasian Rug Company for viewing by an outside jury. The jury will select one student rug design to be sent to Afghanistan, where the design will be hand knotted into a 4 by 6 foot rug. The completed rug will then be given to the school next October.

Special thanks to the Minasian Rug Company, Urban Gateways, the King Family Foundation, the teachers and staff at Stone Elementary Scholastic Academy, and especially all the great young artists for making this special residency such a success.



The King Family Foundation