Mentor & Apprentices Show Examines Teaching/Learning Process

Here's how I'm spending my Friday night. My friend and tapestry artist Donna Loraine Contractor (second from right) and past and present apprentices will be showing the fruits of their teacher/student relationship at a show titled “Mentor and Apprentices.” The opening reception is tonight from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Contractor’s program is unique among teacher/student arrangements, because rather than lecture her apprentices, she points students in the direction they are interested, then requires them to explore their own answers to the questions they find. By the end of their program – which because it is self-directed, it ends when they want it to – they’ve learned design, finishing, the business end of running a professional weaving studio and whatever else they themselves think they need to learn. It is a social and interactive way to learn, which is not often seen in this country.

• Vivian Skadron (far left in the photo), who will have 4-6 pieces in the show, ended her one-year apprenticeship in December 2009. She learned to weave in Israel over 15 years ago, and came to Contractor desiring to learn the techniques of tapestry weaving.
• Chyraelle Braddock (middle in black shirt), has participated in the apprenticeship since April of 2009. She’ll have between one and three pieces in the show. She is a long-time knitter and beader, who experimented with weaving before entering the program. Contractor’s inspiring and creative use of color drew her to the program.
• Ruth Simpson (far right) joined the program in May 2009; she will have between one and three pieces in the show. Simpson was intrigued with the idea of an apprentice program, since this kind of learning is not often seen in the United States.

The exhibition of fine art tapestries from Contractor and three of her five apprentices will run from August 7-31, 2009 at the Arts Alliance Gallery, 1100 San Mateo Blvd. NE.

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