Lavallee's Book Bits

February/March 2016

Making Room for Creativity

Whether you are the chief of police or a child just about to enter kindergarten, we all have fears. There are times in our lives when our minds and bodies overrule our sensibility, and fear sets in. Our palms sweat. Our breath comes a little faster. We have trouble thinking straight.

Students on our team spent several weeks investigating this strong emotion. We read relatable stories with children who experienced various forms of fear. We also read nonfiction science pieces detailing what happens inside our bodies and brain when encountering fear.

We will soon partner with the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and Gateway to the Arts to help area children overcome their fears while undergoing medical procedures and treatment. On Friday, February 26, a child life specialist will visit our reading classes to share the special equipment and techniques used to help kids handle anxiety.

On Monday, February 29, fabric and textile artist Amy Masters will take residency in our newly created makerspace. Students will spend ten class periods learning to stitch, both by hand and with a machine. We will start by making simple pillowcases to provide comfort to the patients at Children's Hospital. We will follow up with a related project that students will be encouraged to design and even wear! (More information to follow.)

Fear not, dear families. There is plenty of reading and writing to be done during this project. We will read related articles about kids helping kids. We will research additional sewing techniques to apply to our personalized projects. As we learn and grow, expect to see journal entries documenting our journey. You might even read some original, inspirational stories too. We have many budding authors among us!

Finally, we are going to lend our hands to a similar project involving Jameson's Army. The special nurses in the heart unit will lend their experienced sewing skills to make special pillows for the youngsters in their care. We will host a fabric drive to help them get their project off the ground. (More information to follow.)

Meet the Artist: Amy Masters

Amy Masters is a Pittsburgh-based artist. Her work utilizes fiberā€based sculpture, installation, photographic documentation, and performance to investigate traditions in storytelling and play. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Fibers from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Textiles Design from the University of Kansas. She was an artist-in-residence at the Wassaic Art Project, Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and Artspace. Masters is currently working as an apprentice and teaching artist at the Society for Contemporary Craft.