An Interdisciplinary Project Connects Avenues 2nd Graders to Students in Nepal

Rosalyn McCaine, Lower Division Art Teacher

Our 2nd grade students have been taking part in an amazing global art collaboration, much of it completed in their immersion art class. A program called Crossroads has joined Avenues New York, Jan Kath gallery and Kelsang Primary School in Kathmandu, Nepal, in a year-long carpet-design and pen-pal partnership.

Visiting Jan Kath's gallery in the fall.

Visiting Jan Kath's gallery in the fall. 

Taking in the beautiful carpets at Jan Kath.

Taking in the beautiful carpets at Jan Kath. 

In the fall, our 2nd grade students took an expedition to Jan Kath's Chelsea gallery space to view and touch carpets, learn about the process of making a carpet by hand, participate in carpet design activities and ask lots of questions. Students took the information that they learned at Jan Kath and combined it with new studies in radial symmetry in order to collaboratively make a carpet design in art class. To test their understanding of radial symmetry, they also completed multiple other activities and projects: an individual carpet design; a kinesthetic activity in which they moved papers as a class in a five-foot circular carpet; a collage or painted radial design; a folded paper radial design; and a stamped radial artwork. Each class has one carpet that students have collaboratively designed and will be made into a real carpet. Every student in the class had a chance to contribute an image or a line to the design as well as add color using colored pencils.

A student colors in a portion of a class-collaborative carpet design.

A student colors in a portion of a class collaborative carpet design. 

The designs have been sent to Nepal, where they have been turned into a pattern of knots. The process of dyeing and spinning yarns has been completed, and the carpet makers are currently knotting pieces of yarn together according to the pattern. This labor-intensive process will take four months to complete! While we wait for students' beautiful designs to be made into real carpets, we have established a pen-pal partnership between Avenues 2nd graders and 2nd and 3rd graders at Kelsang Primary school, where the majority of the carpet workers in Jan Kath's factories send their children. Our students and the Kelsang students have begun communicating via written and video messages. Both sets of children will have the unique opportunity of holding a conversation with peers who are hundreds of thousands of miles away. 

Carpet designs created by Avenues students.

Carpet designs created by Avenues students. 

Carpet designs created by the children of Kelsang Primary.

Carpet designs created by the children of Kelsang Primary. 

The Nepalese children have attended a winter workshop where they worked with a local artist in the Thangka (Tibetan Buddhist) style to collaboratively design carpets, their first art experience. All 16 carpets (eight Avenues student designed and eight Kelsang Primary student designed) will be exhibited at a gallery show at Jan Kath’s New York showroom, opening exclusively to 2nd grade parents June 7 and to Avenues community members and the public the week after. All carpets will be auctioned off, with funds going to support Kelsang Primary school. We hope that you join us in celebrating this unique collaboration at Jan Kath’s gallery space in June.

The videos below, produced by the gallery, provide more insight into all the work that goes into making the carpets. 



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