The Gordon School (Providence, RI)
Mrs. Dumville and her students
We got a letter from The Gordon School (Providence, RI) . I am so excited to showcase their projects on our web-site. This is the program in Mrs. Dumville’s class about “Japanese Design”. Their Tenugui show wonderful creativity by each student and it totally amazes me. I would like to introduce a new series on our Tenugui blog: their art program, Tenugui project and Japanese Design class. The first episode is the letter from Mrs. Dumville “Toni’s Tenugui Story”, which is a beautiful collaboration between Tenugui and The Gordon school art class. And also check out the composition “Trick or Treat”.
- The letter from Mrs. Tori Dumville -
“Toni’s Tenugui Story”
I vividly remember the first time I saw a Tenugui. As a participant in the 2007 Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund program for teachers, I had been given the honor to visit Japan for the first time. Eager to see an expansive view of the city at night, I walked from my hotel to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and rode the elevator up 220 meters to the observation tower. June 13th at 10 in the evening, the city lights dazzled forever. But, my true inspiration would be found in the adjacent gift shop. Hydrangea blooms in colors of blue, gold and lavenders were crisply printed on pure white cotton. Folded and wrapped in acetate, it caught my eye and captured my imagination. Soon, I noticed a charming collection of assorted designs. What were these pieces of cloth? Opened up, I could see the edges were unfinished and the fabric quite soft and supple. I spent my first yen on three pieces – the hydrangea, a pattern of blue and white geometric forms, and a bold graphic design with zig zags and stripes in gray and red. It would be a while before I would discover the story behind these delightful textiles and the role they would play in my teaching. They were everywhere in Tokyo now. Men were wearing them in the Tsukiji Fish Market as they filleted tuna. In store windows, bottles of sake were wrapped in spotted cloth. My visit to the Open Air Architecture Museum provided me with some answers. The shop contained many marvelous pieces and a handbook about Tenugui.
When I returned home from Japan in early July, I was curious to know if anyone was selling Tenugui in the states. I happily discovered Ruri and her marvelous company, wuhao newyork Inc. I am grateful for her energy, enthusiasm and sincere interest in my desire to learn about Japanese culture and my work with students.
As an art instructor at the Gordon School in East Providence, RI., I designed a course this fall, called “Japanese Design” to expose students to Japanese aesthetics and culture. I introduced my middle school students to the tradition and craft of Tenugui. In the art studio, they were challenged to design a piece using images from American culture. Their individual Tenugui had to reflect their interests and experiences. Since I could not use the traditional Japanese methods for printing on fabric, I decided to teach them the technique of silk-screening. After they designed a repeat pattern, they cut our stencils to apply to screens. Students were asked to carefully select a color pallete, keeping in mind the theme and emotional quality of their particular design. The studio was filled with excitement, hard work and camaraderie as thirteen-year-old students experimented with ideas, inks and fabric to create functional art inspired by an ancient Japanese tradition. We hope you like these one of a kind Tenugui.
The Gordon School – composition #01 – Trick or Treat
The design for my Tenugui represents the stereotypical Halloween characters! A ghost, the devil, a bone and a skull are the usual suspects for classic costumes.
Student Artist wearing “Trick or Treat”
- to be continued…
Mumbling date on November 13, 2007