The Frist Art Museum is presenting a special exhibit culled from the renowned Nelson-Watkins Museum of Art, Weaving Splendor: Treasures of Asian Textiles. The exhibit will run until December 31st this year and provides a rare opportunity for our community to admire Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Persian and Turkish costumes and luxury textiles representative of the global Silk Road trade.
Inspired by the exhibit, teachers in the fourth grade led students on a journey to discover more about Chinese textiles and the Silk Road in art classes as well as in homerooms. In the art studio, Kathryn Swords introduced students to the marvelous, mythical Chinese dragon that graces many traditional Chinese textiles. Whereas in the Western tradition, the dragon is a menacing figure, the dragon in Chinese culture is a symbol of peace and fortune.
Students have been creating their own wearable art out of paper, a Chinese “silk” robe, symbolic of their own values and interests. They also learned about other symbolic motifs, animals, patterns, styles, and mythical creatures that reflect the artwork seen on Chinese robes. The art studio is filled with inspiration – from dragon images and a large dragon kite to stuffed animal pandas and examples of Chinese textiles, to name a few. They planned their robe designs and experimented with “dyeing” them with liquid watercolor before heading into the final stage of production.
Caitlin Harris, Interdisciplinary Learning Coordinator, talked about the geography and history of the Silk Road. She brought a treasure trove of articles found along the Silk Road, including silkworm cocoons, silk, a dried and decorated gourd, jade, some Taklamakan Desert and Gobi Desert sand, and a slideshow of her pictures from a Silk Road adventure several years ago.
More than just goods made their way across continents on the Silk Road. Folktales, music, inventions, animals, religion, currency, and language also spread along the Silk Road trade routes. The Silk Road is sometimes called the ancient World Wide Web! It is also full of lore and mystery. To wrap up this mini-unit, students played a Silk Road trading game that had the kids wheeling and dealing to acquire goods.
Fourth graders were not the only ones who benefitted from the Frist Museum’s exhibit. Kindergarten and Grade 1 have been studying the marvelous mythical Chinese dragons in art class. They read the book The Legend of the Chinese Dragon by Marie Sellier. Students created colorful ceramic dragons, working hard to make them as detailed as possible while also learning clay hand-building techniques and how to glaze their clay projects. Kindergartners created Chinese landscapes, as well. The landscapes provide dragon-friendly skies and mountains. Dragons and landscapes are on display in the glass cases near the front door and the hallway between the lobby and Robinson Hall Dining Room.
Weaving Splendor: Treasures of Asian Textiles
at the Frist Art Museum will be on exhibit through December 31. The exhibit is stunning! The Martin ArtQuest Gallery on the second floor has fun hands-on art activities relating to the show, as well. Information about the Weaving Splendor
can be found on the Frist Art Museum website
. Please note that on the second Sunday of each month, there are family tours, multisensory gallery experiences, and a special visit to the Martin ArtQuest Gallery. For information about Family Sunday, please visit the Family Sunday page on the Frist Art Museum website
Kathryn also took her passion for cross-curricular, cultural projects out on the river this fall. Ensworth’s faculty and staff participated in the Dragon Boat Races to benefit the Cumberland River Compact as a part of a larger Chinese/Art/Community project which included 22 of Ensworth faculty and staff rowers.