This summer, many EHS teachers are preparing for the possibility of campus closure and searching for suitable projects for students can do at home, should the need arise. For art classes, the home environment presents several unique challenges, including the availability of space and materials. When Studio Art Teacher and Program Coordinator Lauren Cunningham transitioned her Mixed Media course online in March, she taught embroidery and discovered that the medium is a great option for the virtual art classroom because it is inexpensive, clean, safe, and didn't take up much space. Plus, students can embroider just about anywhere!
Cunningham recalls that her students figured out quickly that embroidery did not have to take place at a traditional workstation. They embroidered at the kitchen table, on the floor, sofa, or bed—even outside! The compactness and portability of embroidery offered the flexibility students needed for making art at home as part of their online class.
For a few students, embroidering around the house led to connections with family members. Catherine Russell '23 taught her mother and younger brother how to embroider after they saw her project and expressed an interest.
Sophia Black '22 reported that her grandmother came over on Mother's Day and "brought over all this embroidery stuff because she is so happy I am doing it." Sophia continued to update her grandmother on her project via text and Zoom.
Elizabeth Hunt '20 student wrote, "I was able to connect with my mom because she was really into needlepointing."
These anecdotes highlight an unexpected benefit of embroidering at home: the potential for cross-generational exchange. A class survey revealed that 85% of Cunningham's students had relatives who knew how to embroider or do other needlecrafts. According to Cunningham, these results suggest there are further opportunities for students to learn from or even collaborate with family members, to deepen students' engagement with the curriculum–and their family relationships. "Students could do an optional activity with their relative or create projects inspired by a relative's craft!"
Cunningham looks forward to teaching embroidery again this fall, whether classes are on-campus or online. The materials are ideal in many ways for students working at home, and fostering relationships is built right into the art!