Weaving community art
The New Children’s Museum is hosting “Community Looms,” a community weaving workshop, through early January. Photo credit: Courtesy: NCM

The New Children’s Museum is collaborating with an artist-in-residence on a new workshop, “Community Looms,” to engage visitors in the creation of textile sculptures.

The workshop, continuing through Jan. 9, is inspired by Michelle Montjoy’s work in engaging community members. She has held similar versions of the workshop at the Oceanside Museum of Art, Art Produce Gallery in North Park and Sophie’s Gallery in El Cajon.

The events feature three large looms, 36 inches in diameter, at which up to eight participants work together to knit material made from recycled or donated T-shirts.

Participants will learn Montjoy’s technique as well as breathing and meditative exercises facilitated by museum teaching artists.

The finished knitted sculptures are slated to be displayed in the museum.

“Using familiar textile material and joyful colors, these oversized hand-built looms transform
what is usually a singular activity into a connected, communal action,” Montjoy said. “Not only
do participants get to tap into the calming nature of simple repetitive looping actions, but each stitch in the knitted sculpture physically represents the time and hand of the person who made it.”

The workshop is a continuation of the museum’s collaboration with Montjoy, which included a sensory-friendly installation on the museum’s main level called Breathing
Room. The installation is meant to provide a space for families and children to reflect and relax in an otherwise high-activity environment.

Gabrielle Wyrick, chief curator and director of audience engagement at the New Children’s Museum, called the installation and workshop an example of “how community, access and art are all interconnected.”

The artist residency is funded by a $10,000 grant from the ResMed Foundation, with the looming sessions to be held in the Rosso Family Foundation Innovators LAB.

The “Community Looms” workshops are free with museum admission ($20 for adults and $18 for children) through Jan. 9 at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. during regular museum hours for ages 6 and up. The museum is closed Tuesdays.

An additional drop-in activity, weaving yarn, recycled T-shirts and natural materials into a tapestry, also will be available for visitors of all ages.