By Katherine Franco
“I like that one,” said Molly, age six, pointing at one of the rugs featured in Warp: War Rugs of Afghanistan at the Gund Gallery. Molly told me she liked it because of the houses stitched on it. “That’s my house,” she said, gesturing at an image in the top right corner.
Molly was one of five young children present at the Gallery’s “Children’s Story Time: Weaving the Rainbow” on Saturday, Sept. 9. Jonah Edwards ’18 said the purpose of “Story Time” is to “connect [children] with what’s happening in the gallery space.” The event is open to the public and occurs about five to six times a year.
Yet an exhibition like Warp complicates the story time’s mission. Molly’s favorite rug does not depict houses, but rather tanks that might appear to be houses if you were not familiar with the different shapes. How does the Gallery expose students six years old and younger to art centered around drone warfare and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan?
The Gallery did so by focusing on the craft of weaving, rather than the subject matter of the exhibition. The morning began with a reading of two picture books titled Wild Rose’s Weaving, authored by Ginger Churchill and illustrated by Nicole Wong, and Weaving the Rainbow, authored by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Stephanie Anderson.
The tales were connected to Warp through the rugs’ medium, rather than the complex and highly political stories they tell.
Wild Rose’s Weaving, a favorite among a few of the participants, follows the relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter, Rose. “A rug is not just a rug, Rose,” the grandmother tells her toward the end of the story. “It’s a picture of life.”
Weaving the Rainbow traces wool’s journey from sheep to loom. The realism of Anderson’s watercolor illustrations is particularly distinctive.
After reading the two books aloud, student associate Hannah Anain ’19, with the help of Edwards, introduced the next portion of the event: a hands-on art project. For the remainder of the hour, the participants, with the help of their parents and the associates, eagerly took part in the activity. The Gallery provided each child with ribbon, yarn and a small wooden loom.
“I want to make a big one like that,” one participant exclaimed, as she sat down beside a rug and began her weaving work. Although she did not manage to create a rug of that caliber in the allotted 15 minutes, she still went home with a work of her own creation.