Special Activities
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Building Shanghai||Environmental Ethics of Art
Time of publication : 2022-07-22 13:00:00 Content classification : “Building Shanghai”


During the week of 15 November, SHBS students embarked on a range of intensive inquiry- and project-based learning programs that took them out of traditional classrooms and into the amazing city they call home. For this second year of Building Shanghai, the program theme is sustainability: what’s required to confront our global climate emergency to continue thriving in the future.

Every group explored an essential aspect of Shanghai’s economy and culture, with a focus on how innovation, conservation, and adaptation can address pressing environmental concerns—with topics including Ecological Diversity, Sustainable Fashion, Modern Agriculture and Organic Agriculture, Green Energy, The Fate of Garbage, Hospitality and Tourism, Environmental Ethics of Art, and The Cost of Money: can e-currency be green?

Let’s take a look at the report brought by Lisa Xie and James Bai from the Environmental Ethics of Art group.


Our group's exploration focused more on raising people's awareness of environmental protection by creating works of art.  This time we chose to weave tapestry.


Ms Liu first taught us some basic knowledge of tapestry weaving, what warp and weft are, how to wind and weave threads, and then gave us some small pieces of cardboard so that we could practise weaving and winding threads around them.  After familiarizing us with some basic techniques, Miss Jiang and Miss Liu encouraged us to think about through group brainstorming what artworks we could create with this artistic technique with focus on "environmental protection and sustainability", so that we could arouse people’s resonance.


Our teachers also took us to Shanghai Jinshan Silk Carpet Factory to observe and learn weaving skills. The factory director warmly led us to their lecture hall for visitors, and invited Ms. Cheng Meihua to give us a lecture on the history and production process of silk carpet.  Ms. Cheng Meihua, a Chinese expert on carpet making, a master of arts and crafts, and the inheritor of Shanghai Jinshan Silk carpet, which was recognized as non-material cultural heritage, has nearly 50 years of experience in silk carpet weaving and dedicates herself to making handmade silk carpets.  Her works were displayed in the American Art Center, The Shanghai World Expo, the National Museum of China and other places, making her famous at home and abroad.  By attending her lecture, we learned that the production steps of handmade silk carpet include cocoon, silk, design, layout, dot grid, color matching, dyeing, flat wool, weaving, flower cutting, refurbishment and inspection, each of which plays an important part in deciding the quality of silk carpet.


Traditional handmade silk carpet weaving is time-consuming and labor-intensive, with single pattern, so it is facing the crisis of being eliminated by the market.  Ms. Meihua took the lead in the design innovation, added other emerging elements such as shadow and wave lines into the silk carpet weaving, thus winning the love of collectors at home and abroad,and attracting a large number of orders. Next, we viewed the weaving process. In the weaving workshop, we learned the weaving method of fig-eight knot and the use of the spinning wheel, and learned how to quickly sort the thread, wrap it neatly and weave a beautiful silk blanket.


After visiting the factory, we went to Meihua Silk Carpet creative studio to watch her masterpieces. Displayed inside the studio were 50 exquisite handmade silk carpets, each of which took between nine months and a year and a half to complete. On one hand, the scissor carving strengthens the line sense and three-dimensional sense of the work; on the other hand, the excellent use of color makes the silk carpet pattern itself have a kind of uneven texture. These silk carpets began to evolve from the original graphic arts to three-dimensional arts, which makes people amazed at their fine craft. Ms. Meihua also personally demonstrated the figure of eight knot advanced skills for us. She twirled the silk thread with one hand and separated the fine weft thread with the other. Both hands were intersected and shook flexibly, and the thread was in the position it should be. Then she picked up a knife and cut it gently, cutting the wool into a fuzzy texture, making the final product feel more delicate.  Through this visit, we were not only deeply impressed by  the charm of tapestry weaving art, but also greatly admired the characters of weaving artists.


Finally, we chose to create one big work and several small works. By noon on the fourth day, the group in charge of the big works still had a large part of it unfinished.  All of us began working together to weave the big works, and successfully finished weaving our big works.  Our work was green home, and from a distance it looked so vivid. In the picture, we could see the blue sky, clear river, green plants around the river.  Old bottle caps were also used for decoration.





On the last day of presentation, everyone praised our works for being lifelike. It seemed as if we were really looking at a landscape painting, which made people feel the beauty of green home and want to protect it all the time.


Through the week-long activities, we not only learned about the art of tapestry weaving and its amazing charm, but also developed our patience and teamwork ability through practice. We also had a deeper understanding of environmental protection and sustainable development by brainstorming and creating works focused on environmental protection together.



Through the week-long project-based learning activities, they are more likely to think of the concept of “sustainable development”in their daily life. They are also more aware of the connection between what they are learning and how to solve real-world problems, and more aware of the responsibilities that the time has placed on their shoulders. Real learning and transformation occur through experience and practice. On the last day of the week, we realized the great value and significance of the "Build Shanghai" programs when students presented their achievements with confidence and enthusiasm.