The GFR Tapestry Program conducts research and organizes public programs through our office at the Arizona State Museum (ASM) on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson. We work closely with ASM staff members on a variety of public events and educational activities at the Museum.
Southwest Indian Art Fair.
Each year through 2009, in late February, the Southwest Indian Art Fair at Arizona State Museum has hosted over one hundred native artists, with sales booths, performance arena, food court, and more. More than 5,000 people typically attended the two-day event. From 1999 to 2009, the GFR Tapestry Program has sponsored and staffed the “Learn About Weaving!” area, where Navajo weavers demonstrate their craft for two days. Volunteers from the Tucson Handweavers & Spinners Guild helped the public learn about carding and spinning sheep’s wool and weaving on a Navajo-style loom. The excitement of learning new skills has proven contagious!
Lawrence School Partnership.
From 1999 through 2001, fourth graders at Anna Lawrence Intermediate School in Tucson wove a series of beginning tapestries. And they accomplished much more–on their simple frame looms, they explored color, geometry, the alphabet, and pictorial imagery. Following the lead of instructors Ann Keuper and Julie Huls and assisted by Tapestry Center volunteers, they incorporated natural and synthetic materials into their artwork and learned about dyeing. In addition to individual pieces, they worked together on collaborative art projects. The school provides trilingual Yaqui/Yoeme, Spanish and English programs, and this weaving program, supported by the GFR Center for Tapestry Studies, contributed in many ways to the curriculum.
Learning to weave and creating expressive tapestries has offered an excellent step to learning about other subjects–for example, lessons in anthropology, geography, basic chemistry, and mathematics have all grown from studying weaving. The students kept journals that honed their writing skills and reinforced what they’ve been learning in class. Because of its educational merits, the project begun by the Tapestry Center was supported by the school itself and expanded to include more instructors and multiple classrooms.