Weaving History with Community: A Weaving Workshop

Georgetown School of the Arts founder, instructor, artist Susan Jackson is presenting an interactive workshop featuring a hands-on lesson in weaving and a brief history of weaving as a functional practice and art form at multiple locations throughout the area.

The slideshow portion of the presentation explores the history of weaving from the Native Americans to the Colonials and all the way to present day artists focusing on New England and Connecticut. The other portion of the presentation is hands on weaving for participants.

Susan has been a weaver for over 20 years and has taught weaving at the Georgetown School of the Arts for the last 8 years. Her enthusiasm for this art form is palpable and contagious. If you are interested in local history, weaving, or just want to try your hand at weaving, do not miss this presentation.

Find her at the Ridgefield Library on Monday, March 16th at 1p.m. and 7p.m. for adults, 4:30p.m. for 3rd through 5th graders, and Monday, March 23rd at 3:30p.m. for teens.
At the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut in Danbury on Friday, March 27th at 6:30p.m.
And at the Wilton Historical Society in September (date TBD).

Hope to see you there!

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Crafting Helps You Feel Good

Here’s an interesting article we recently read that shows doing a craft helps your brain relax and reduces stress and anxiety. As if crafters needed to be told that doing a craft is a form of mindfulness akin to meditation but it is nice to have scientific evidence to back it up.

Georgetown School of the Arts offers weaving and woodworking classes, in case you need a little boost 🙂

In Our Brutal Modern World, Science Shows Our Brains Need Craft More Than Ever 


At a time when many of us feel overwhelmed by the 24/7 demands of the digital world, craft practices, alongside other activities such as colouring books for grown-ups and the up-surge of interest in cooking from scratch and productive home gardens, are being looked to as something of an antidote to the stresses and pressures of modern living.

Crafts such as knitting, crochet, weaving, ceramics, needlework and woodwork focus on repetitive actions and a skill level that can always be improved upon.

According to the famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi this allows us to enter a “flow” state, a perfect immersive state of balance between skill and challenge.

With what is increasingly referred to today as “mindfulness” being a much-desired quality for many people, it’s not surprising crafts are being sought out for their mental and even physical benefits.

Craft as therapy

For over a century, arts and craft-based activity have been a core part of occupational therapy that emerged as a distinct health field around the end of the first world war in response to the needs of returned soldiers.

This includes many suffering from what we now refer to as post-traumatic stress disorder, but then referred to as “shell shock”.

Knitting, basket weaving, and other craft activities were commonplace in the repatriation support offered throughout much of the English-speaking world to the returned veterans of the two world wars.

This was as both diversional therapy (taking your mind off pain and negative thoughts), as well as skills-development geared towards re-entering the civilian workforce.

More recently, research is seeking to better understand just how craft is so beneficial for the body and mind. Interestingly, much of the focus has been on the mental health and well-being brought about by knitting.

The benefits of craft according to science

large-scale international online survey of knitters found respondents reported they derived a wide range of perceived psychological benefits from the practice: relaxation; relief from stress; a sense of accomplishment; connection to tradition; increased happiness; reduced anxiety; enhanced confidence, as well as cognitive abilities (improved memory, concentration and ability to think through problems).

In more clinical contexts, introducing knitting into the lives of hospital patients with anorexia nervosa led to a self-reported reduction in anxious preoccupation with eating disorder thoughts and feelings.

Some 74 percent of research participants described feeling “distracted” or “distanced” from these negative emotional and cognitive states, as well as more relaxed and comfortable.

Over half said they felt less stressed, a feeling of accomplishment, and less likely to act on their “ruminating thoughts”.

In another study, knitting was found to reduce workplace stress and compassion fatigue experienced by oncology nurses.

Quilting has been found to enhance participant’s experiences of well-being as they move into older age.

Research reports quilters find the work challenging, cognitively demanding, it helps to maintain or generate new skills, and working with colour was found to be uplifting, especially in winter.

In studies of people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME), depression and other long-term health problems, textile crafts were found to increase sufferers’ self-esteem, their engagement with the wider world, and increase their personal sense of well-being and their ability to live positively with their condition.

While knitting and other textile-based activities tend to be female-dominated, similar benefits have been found for men in the collective woodworking, repair and other productive tinkering activities of the Men’s Sheds movement.

Participants reported reduced levels of depression.

Why does craft make us feel good?

What unites almost all of these studies, is that while the practice of craft, especially those such as knitting, quilting, needlework and woodworking, may at first appear to be relatively private activities, the benefits also substantially arise from the social connections craft enables.

These have even been reported across whole communities impacted by disaster, such as the recovery following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

One of the strengths of craft practice, especially as a contributor to well-being, is precisely that it can be both solitary and collective, and it’s up to the individual to decide.

For the shy, the ill, or those suffering from various forms of social anxiety, this control, as well as the capacity to draw away any uncomfortable focus upon themselves and instead channel this into the process of making, is a much valued quality of their craft practice.

The research into the physical and mental health benefits of craft remains largely qualitative and based on self-reporting.

And it especially explores its capacity to generate positive health outcomes through positive mental health.

While there’s much more work to be done here, it’s clear craft continues to play a key role in enhancing the quality of life of those who participate in its practices.

Susan Luckman, Professor of Cultural Studies, University of South Australia.

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Family visit to an Art Museum

Main GalleryAt first when I suggested go to the Yale University Art Gallery (artgallery.yale.edu) in New Haven one Sunday it was not well received by my family. We were meeting some cousins and their families for lunch in New Haven and the museum was just a couple blocks away so I thought it would be a nice day to walk over and check it out. I had never been so I had no idea whether it would be an enjoyable or miserable experience. My kids (ages 11, 9 ,9) were less than enthused. I mentioned it at the end of lunch to the family and I was pleasantly surprised when others asked to join us. There were 7 adults and 7 kids ranging in age from 11 down to 1 and a half. Not one person complained. Let me say that again. No one complained about being in a museum. We saw African art, American art, Greek/Roman art, ancient art, modern art, Asian art, paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, masks, the building itself is a work of art.

1972.931941.604, 43964At one point my son said he liked a Mondrian. It was a typical Mondrian, the lines and blocks of color (Fox Trot B, with Black, Red, Blue. and Yellow). Then he moved to a different room and said he liked another painting. I told him he picked out another Mondrian though in a more representational style (By the Sea). He had to go back and look at the first one to see if he could tell it was the same guy! Twenty years of painting can change a person’s style dramatically and it was great to see it all in one place.

Selfie with RothkoNearby everyone could pick out the Picassos. There were many other Cubist artists that they had never heard of but were drawn to almost more than the famous Picassos. Why does he get all the press anyway? I had to take a selfie with a Rothko. I don’t usually take selfies but one does not write papers in high school and college on an artist and pass up an opportunity to take a selfie with them!

kids in the museumI tried to get the kids to pick out art they liked and get a photo of them by it. It worked for the 9 and 11 year olds, the younger ones did not stand still long enough for flashless photos! Letting the kids decide where to go next was a great way to get them involved and invested. They absolutely adored leading the adults around for a change and every turn led to a new experience. Will we continue to see art 2000+ years old or will we come upon art created in their lifetime?

My only regret is getting there so late in the day that we only had about an hour to look around. We didn’t even get to all the floors before the security told us we needed to make our way back downstairs much to the dismay of the children (that’s a win in my book!). We will definitely go back when we have more time to explore. But then again there are so many museums and galleries in the area. After crossing the street to walk back to our cars, my daughter gave my arm a tug and said, “we need to go here next time” pointing to the Yale Center for British Art (britishart.yale.edu). Yes, yes we do. Say the word and we will be there, baby.

Yale University Art Gallery https://artgallery.yale.edu/  Free admission
Yale Center for British Art https://britishart.yale.edu/   Free admission

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Kind Words From Our Clients

Georgetown School of Arts is a wonderful art center for our area. Susan Jackson is a talented, passionate professional who takes the time to teach her craft to the community. I have been taking weaving classes for over a year and her humor, compassion and generosity make the school a place that I am excited to visit every week. Thank you for providing a place to explore my creative side and bring out the best in all I do. 5 stars!!
Sue R.

Thanks so much! He LOVES it. I hang his art all over the house. It really is lovely to see him choose the blank paper over the pictures to color in from coloring books and watch what he creates. You have really inspired him. Thanks so much!
Barbara A.

We are always overjoyed when our clients are happy. Thank you for the kind words!
Georgetown School of the Arts/Paint, Draw & More!

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Why Weaving?

Weaving is one of the oldest surviving crafts in the world. Humans have been weaving since Neolithic times – at least 12,000 years ago, and even before that people were interlacing branches and twigs to create fences, shelters and baskets. You may ask, “Why would I be interested in learning to weave when I can buy manufactured fabrics and hangings?” It’s all about the process, as well as the beautiful results.

Most people today spend time at school or work sitting at computers, repeating endless abstract functions, with little or no sense of accomplishment. But creating something with your very own hands can be a refreshing and rewarding way to relax and unwind. It can also be very empowering to look at something you created and say, “I made that, I started with nothing and created something beautiful and artful.” It doesn’t matter if it’s objectively exquisite or if your friends and acquaintances like it; it just matters that you decided to do something creative, you persevered and you finished it. And you have something tangible to show for it.

As an added benefit you will find that as you spend more time creating, you will become more capable of creative thinking. Creativity is like a muscle; the more you use it the stronger it becomes. It is also a great way to release emotions and express yourself. Creativity teaches you to think outside the box at work and life in general. Even if you feel like you don’t have the “talent” to paint, draw, or sculpt, chances are very good that you can learn to weave and you will end up with awesome and useful creations. You may just find that you are more “talented” than you believed!

To get a taste of amazing fiber art visit Art in the Barn, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT from April 28 to May 6th to view the exhibit “Blue/Green: color/code/context.” http://www.browngrotta.com

Maybe we from GSA will see you there! And don’t forget we offer adult weaving classes on Friday mornings in our studio.

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Creativity and Art: Beneficial (and Fun) at Any Age!

Multiple studies show that those over age 55 who attended or participated in cultural and artistic events reported better mental and physical health than those who did not.

In 2010, the American Journal of Public Health published The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health, a compilation of numerous studies on the connection of creativity and art to aging and health.

In that article, researchers analyzed more than 100 studies about the impact of art on health and one’s ability to heal oneself. The studies included everything from music and writing to dance and the visual arts.

As an example, here are the findings from five visual arts studies mentioned in that review (visual arts includes things like painting, drawing, photography, pottery, and textiles). Each study examined more than 30 patients who were battling chronic illness and cancer.

Here’s how the researchers described the impact that visual art activities had on the patients…

• Art filled occupational voids, distracted thoughts of illness
• Improved well-being by decreasing negative emotions and increasing positive ones
• Improved medical outcomes, trends toward reduced depression
• Reductions in stress and anxiety; increases in positive emotions
• Reductions in distress and negative emotions
• Improvements in flow and spontaneity, expression of grief, positive identity, and social networks

In that vein (and maybe give you ideas to get started), consider visiting The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan to see an exhibit they are calling “The Long Run” which focuses on the careers of older artists, including 130 works of art each made by an artist who was at least 45, and frequently much older. Artists include Lee Bontecou, Louise Bourgeois, Melvin Edwards, Gego, Philip Guston, Joan Jonas, Helen Levitt and many others. It will be on display through Nov. 4, 2018. For more information, go to moma.org.

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Art Makes a Great Gift!

The New York Times recently ran an article offering their art critics’ favorite art books. It is well worth the read, especially if you are looking for a thoughtful gift for a friend or family member this holiday season.

The Best Art Books of 2017

And if you are looking for a gift with more “hands-on” appeal, check out the winter/spring offerings on our page:

Paint Draw & More!


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Local Art Shows and Fundraisers

If you are looking for some things to do over the next few weeks that don’t include battling crowds at the mall, but does include supporting local artists and non profits, check out the neighborhood art scene.

Local talent will be on display at the Mark Twain Library Art Show and Fundraiser. Opening reception is December 1st and the show will close on December 10th. Over eighty local and regional artists will be exhibiting.

439 Redding Rd, West Redding, CT 06896


Trailer Box Project will be hosting two Events in December. The first (running from December 9 thru December 21) will benefit Ann’s Place, a support group for cancer survivors. The show will feature Artist made ornaments and much more. The second show will be a group show featuring 11 local artists (running from December 9 – January 20).

15 Great Pasture Rd., Unit 15, Danbury Ct. 06810


For a listing of even more Arts events check out the “things to do” page of the Cultural Alliance of Western CT. You can filter results by venue,category or date, etc.


Enjoy the shows!

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Art as a Gateway to Learning

The US Department of Education published a report in 2002 on “The Value Added Benefits of the Arts,” which states, “Studies have shown that arts teaching and learning can increase student’s cognitive and social development. The arts can be a critical link for students in developing the crucial thinking skills and motivations they need to achieve at higher levels” (Deasy, & Stevenson, 2002). The importance of Art in a well-rounded education curriculum can’t be overstated. With recent cutbacks within the formal education system, it may be up to parents to provide their children with opportunities for Art education. These opportunities can be as simple as providing varied materials for exploration at home, or more formal experiences such as after school programs or summer art camps. However the experiences are provided, children gain much from artistic endeavors. These are just a few of the skills children learn from art exposure.

  1. Art encourages and develops creative thinking: children are asked to “think on their feet” and brainstorm various approaches to a design problem, trying new things and experimenting with the range of materials provided.
  2. Art provides a means of communication, self-expression, and emotional release: feelings and ideas that children may not yet have words for can be readily expressed through art.
  3. Art builds confidence: appreciation for their own (and others) creations teaches children to respect the process and the results of their hard work as well as the individuality of others.
  4. Art teaches perseverance: children get “lost” in the creative process, sometimes working for long periods of time to get the reality to match their vision. This commitment will serve them well in any future project.
  5. Art increases self-understanding and self expression: having to think about what they want their work to communicate encourages children to really examine their beliefs and emotions.
  6. Art provides problem-solving and decision-making opportunities: turning their vision for a project into a reality requires children to solve problems repeatedly. Shaping the materials they have into the artwork they see in their head makes them learn how to work within the constructs of the media.
  7. Art offers feelings of accomplishment: when a project is finished to his or her satisfaction the child feels that their efforts have been worthwhile, encouraging future dedication.
  8. Art serves as a balance to academic activities: STEM subjects are important, but children need varied experiences in their day as a respite from the intense focus needed in when confronting science, technology, engineering and math problems.
  9. Art aids physical coordination: fine motor skills andmanual dexterity are improved when children finger paint, or use scissors, paint brushes or other tools.
  10. Art familiarizes children with receiving feedback: constructive criticism is important in any field the child may choose to pursue as they mature. Learning to appreciate the “constructive” component of that feedback is vital and only comes with exposure.
  11. Art develops good work ethics, a sense of responsibility and accountability: especially when an artwork is collaborative, children begin to understand the importance of listening to and respecting other’s opinions, and compromising for the greater good, skills that are invaluable as an adult.
  12. Art aids the adult in understanding and helping the child: emotions revealed through a child’s artwork can be explored and expanded upon through asking open ended questions about the child’s project. Something as simple as “Tell me aboutyour picture/sculpture/song,” can open up lines of communication and offer an invaluable window into the child’s mind.
  13. Art generates joy: Art is FUN! Children love the tactile experience of exploring various media and getting their hands dirty with no repercussions is an added perk!

As parents and caregivers we must view art not as an afterthought if there is time after the “more important” subjects have been tackled. We must remember that art is vital to the well rounded education of our children.

Remember: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso

For an amazing exploration of traditional craft materials repurposed as fine art, check out a free exhibit running from October 26 thru December 6, 2017 at the Flinn Gallery located in the Greenwich Public Library
Of Art and Craft


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Kindergarten & Beyond Art Education 

Childhood education experts agree on the importance of exposing kids to art early in life. As parents and caregivers, the importance of encouraging kids to experience and explore artistic expression cannot be overstated. Early school age experiences in art creation and appreciation foster exploration, self expression, logical thinking, self-esteem, imagination, and, of course, originality. Part of that process is to have readily available and varied art supplies, including, but not limited to crayons, washable paints and paintbrushes, markers, modeling clay, construction paper, glue, colored tissue paper, shoe boxes, paper towel tubes, sponges, empty water bottles, chalk, paper plates, scrap paper, fabric, buttons, sequins, glitter, pom-poms, felt, colored tape, cotton balls, ribbon, yarn, string, feathers, leaves, twigs, etc. Even oddball items that we might not readily associate with art can be useful tools to a child. Think of empty and washed out roll on deodorant bottles filled with washable paint, or an old toothbrush, or cotton swabs. Any and all of these can lead to non-traditional painting experiences. Don’t be afraid to let kids make a mess! Lay out a drop cloth or newspapers over a table or a section of floor and let kids create with abandon. Even children younger than school age can be presented with shaving cream with a few drops of food coloring added on a cookie sheet. The tactile and visual stimulation of “playing” with the foam lets youngsters experience the process of making art and cleanup is nothing more than a quick rinse. 

Another important factor in childhood art experiences is art appreciation. Even five-year-olds can enjoy discovering the treasures in adult art museums, and though the Metropolitan Museum of Art might be a mite intimidating to a young child, smaller, more local museums and galleries can be only a short drive and a short investment in time away. Follow the child’s lead—literally! They may not move in a logical fashion viewing the artwork sequentially as an adult would, but dart around from one piece that catches their eye to another. They may not want to view everything and may not have the patience for a lengthy visit. Be sensitive to when they need a snack or potty break—the exhibit will still be there after a short rest. Be sure to ask open ended questions about the art to encourage free thinking. “What do you think is happening in the picture?” “What do you like about this picture?” “What don’t you like about this picture?” “Can you pose like the figure in the artwork?” “What do you think the artist was thinking about when he/she created this?” “What colors do you see?” “Why do you think the artist used these colors?” “What do you think will happen next?” You just might find your child sees things you’ve never noticed or sees art in an innovative way, without the pressures and preconceptions of adulthood. Below are listed a few local (and not so local) museums and galleries to get you started.

Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Mathews Park
303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06850

While not specifically an art museum, they do have a new permanent exhibit focusing on creating art and music.
From their web site: http://www.steppingstonesmuseum.org/Exhibits/ExpressYourself/tabid/450/Default.aspx
“Our Newest Permanent Exhibit on Social-Emotional Learning 

“To help children and families acquire the social-emotional learning skills to be successful in an increasingly complex world, Stepping Stones developed Express Yourself. Through art, music, cooperative games and more, children, families and groups will practice expressing themselves and exploring their own emotions. They can act out their feelings on camera and explore how creating artwork, listening to music or dancing can affect their mood. Children can learn how to overcome frustration as they cooperate with other visitors to successfully move a ball through a maze. Express Yourself is filled with fun and effective tools and techniques for children to use in their everyday lives.”

The Aldrich
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT 06877

Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT 06877

Katonah Museum
134 Jay Street – Route 22
Katonah, NY 10536

Connecticut Children’s Museum
Children’s Building
22 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT 06830-7157
Phone: 203-869-0376

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