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Artist Spotlight: Allissa’s Projects

3rd grader Allissa has taken two of my 4-week Saturday Fiber Arts sessions. Within these classes she created many projects, three pieces are featured above.

To complete her name in the the top right, she learned to mark on fabric, set up her embroidery hoop, thread a needle, create her name using the backstitch, and finish off the back of her hoop. Her parents sent pictures of her spending the weekend finishing her name after our class. “She’s still at it!” they said, and sent me a picture of the most peaceful artist concentrated on her project. I absolutely love seeing pictures and receiving texts from parents who see the joy of art developing in their child and note how concentrated and content they are.

Just as art can bring a sense of calm, it can also provide comfort. The worry doll in the bottom right is a perfect example of art doing just that. Worry dolls (also called trouble dolls; in Spanish, Muñeca quitapena) are small, hand-made dolls that originate in Guatemala. Guatemalan children tell their worries to the worry dolls, placing them under their pillow when they go to bed at night. According to legend, by morning the dolls will have given them the wisdom and knowledge they need to eliminate their worries. They are typically no bigger than the palm of your hand, making them popular for tourists. When we work on pieces like these, students also learn to honor the origins and history of the culture that originally produced the art. Allissa made a couple of these. They make a quick and easy project with many different ways to design and construct them. These have craft matchsticks as their base and are wrapped in embroidery floss. They are then given clothing from strips of fabric that are wrapped and tied.

In addition to learning history and culture, students also learn to find new ways of capturing a moment in their lives. The artwork on the left shows eight-year-old Allissa as a selfie in cross-stitch form. While they create their cross-stitch selfies, students learn how to design their own pattern and then how to put that pattern into fiber form. I hope Allissa hangs onto her “selfie” — I always love seeing artist’s self portraits, and I know Allissa will appreciate having something to look back on in a few years and see her happy eight-year-old self in art.