Greenwich’s EMS students learn the fine art of weaving
GREENWICH — Their shuttles zipped back and forth, weaving bold color blocks out of bright yarns. Pairs of Eastern Middle School students leaned over the cricket looms as their handmade textiles emerged.
Most of the students in the art room had never woven before. But students picked up the craft quickly under the watchful tutelage of two local artists.
“I’m very passionate about weaving, but my real passion in weaving is to teach,” said Marroquin. “I love how the kids and adults take to it.”
Their visit was coordinated as part of Eastern Middle School’s Developing Artist Grant. New this year, the $4,500 grant from the Greenwich Alliance for Education provides funding to bring local artists to the school to teach their craft and for students to visit local art museums and artist studios.
“The idea behind the whole program is really to give the kids a look at what the life and work of an artist is really like,” said Michael Manning, an art teacher at Eastern Middle School who coordinated the grant.
Manning, himself a studio artist, also runs art programs at the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich and said that he piloted a similar program there.
This school year, four more artists will teach EMS students, including Johnny Adimando who recently had an installation at the Flinn Gallery at Greenwich Library as part of the exhibit “I’ve Lost Control Again.”
Students will also visit local Master of Fine Arts programs so they can meet artists in their creative spaces.
EMS art teacher Ben Quesnal explained that part of the goal of the grant was to create community between schools and local artists.
Quesnal, a sculptor and painter, is currently showing his work at the Danger Gallery in Stamford with Marroquin and Squillace.
Marroquin, a textile artist, has lived in the United States and Venezuela and studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and the National Textile Workshop in Paris. Marroquin creates abstract textile wall-hangings, hand-knit scarves and custom products for interior designers.
Squillace, a screen printer, learned weaving from Marroquin in 2009. Her own work includes paintings, printed T-shirts and public street art.
Marroquin and Squillace have run many local weaving workshops for children and adults in Connecticut. Last year, they taught students at Old Greenwich School the craft.
“It’s a pleasure just to show them my work and talk a little bit about screen-printing and murals that I’ve done in the past,” said Squillace. “It’s been lovely.”
Eighth-grader Zoë Seguin said she was excited to learn the process behind a familiar art form.
“I have pillows at home that look like this but I thought you had to do it by hand,” she said. “I thought I would never be able to do this; it would take too long. But it’s actually not too hard.”
Sammy Ennis, also in eighth grade, said she appreciated the chance to learn from professional artists.
“This is cool,” she said. “It’s very close to being one-on-one, and you get to ask whatever.”
“We can let students know that art isn’t just about playing or drawing or painting, but actually you can develop a career out of this, you can build a career out of something you love,” said Parisi. “I think it is important to show all kids — to find your passion and pursue it... Having these professionals here as mentors is critical.”
“The grants committee decided to fund this grant because they felt that this was going to engage more students in art,” she said. “The artists coming in was going to expose kids to different types of art that they didn’t know about before and maybe it would a create an interest later on.”