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Weaving Past into Present

Kerstin Davis, Madison Middle School Visual Arts teacher, poses in front of Machu Picchu, Peru with one of the many alpacas that roam along the Inca Trail.

Madison County

Madison County students learn Peruvian weaving skills at MMS art class

Students in Kerstin Davis’ Visual Arts class at Madison Middle School tried their hand at building looms and weaving textile designs in the past month.

Years of donated yarn from the local community and a teacher’s visit to Peru led to an in-depth, often meditative, project that also combined science, culture and art.

 “Most students have never woven before,” said Davis, who hiked to Machu Picchu, Peru in 2018 with her family. “As students weave, I am observing that this lesson has been a very meditative process that is perfect for helping students concentrate and relax during this trying time.”

Jordan Treadway, 7th grader at Madison Middle School, shows off her hand-made loom and her textile design in process during Kerstin Davis’ Visual Arts class. Photo submitted by Sarah Scully.
Jordan Treadway, 7th grader at Madison Middle School, shows off her hand-made loom and her textile design in process during Kerstin Davis’ Visual Arts class.

After assembling and warping their looms, they consider color, pattern, shape, texture and function in their designs. They also learned how different cultures used plants and insects to dye natural alpaca fibers – techniques Davis learned by visiting the studios of Peruvian textile artists.

Student response has been very positive with enthusiastic engagement, comments and textile designs.

“I have had several student reactions along the line ‘I love this!’ ‘Can I stay here all day?’ and one young man divulged, ‘I was up last night thinking of my weaving design,’” said Davis. “That one warmed the cockles of my heart.”

Davis got to enjoy her meditative process at MMS while students had remote learning days at home. She took all the yarn and wrapped them into manageable size balls in a whole rainbow of colors for students to use in a COVID-friendly environment.

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