The Threads of Creativity and Design

For many students at Havergal, the Art program is an important part of their experience. Whether they are interested in pursuing a career in the visual arts, looking for a creative outlet or simply hoping to sharpen their design skills, the program adds richness to their academic calendar.

On the February 15 edition of Day 9, students in Grades 9 and 12 had the opportunity to participate in ‘Fibre Arts Exploration’, an all-day workshop to design and embellish wearable art. From old jeans to canvas bags, students refurbished ordinary items, transforming them into something new. Incorporating fabric paint, applique patches, embroidery, buttons and safety pins, students were encouraged to think outside of the box and no limits were placed on their creativity.

Dr. Miriam Davidson, Head of Art, Kate Berchtold-Wall, Art Teacher and Virginia Funk, Art Studio Assistant, designed the workshop to emphasize traditional artistic practices that are no longer offered in most schools. Without home economic courses, skills such as embroidery, sewing and weaving are often forgotten. “We feel strongly that these artistic practices are a very important and rich part of our cultural and artistic histories, which we do not want to lose,” says Davidson.

These customary techniques are increasingly seen in combination with traditional fine art practices and many contemporary artists are using them in innovative ways. This includes Havergal’s talented Grade 9 students who, each year, design and sew quilts, as part of their visual arts curriculum. In the past, students have taken pride in donating these quilts to charities, such as Project Linus, SickKids and Covenant House. Building on those skills, Grade 10 students undertake an extensive fibre arts project, which challenges their creativity and patience.

Havergal’s Art department encourages students to continue taking art classes throughout their senior years at the school; they provide a different pace in contrast to other courses and allow students to develop a unique set of strengths, including the improvement of fine-motor skills, careful observation, creative problem solving and the ability to persevere when things don’t go as planned.

“With the increased amount of technology in our lives, these traditional practices can enhance students’ daily routine and help balance screen time,” explains Davidson.

For some students, art can be an opportunity to lead and shine in a way that is natural to them. “I find art relaxing. With a busy schedule, it is nice to have an opportunity to slow down and tune into my creativity,” says Grade 12 student Ainslie Shouldice.

The Limitless Campaign will help provide enhanced art classrooms at both the Junior and Upper schools to host a wide variety of artistic practices. These new spaces will encourage cross-disciplinary learning and help students combine their design skills with STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) knowledge for truly innovative results.