Eighth Grade’s Medieval Expo Portrays Rise of Craft Guilds

DSC_2581 At the Medieval Exposition on March 26 in the Center for Well-Being, the Ross School eighth grade displayed the products that arose from learning about this pivotal time period that saw the rise of the merchant class and craft guilds. As part of their studies, students were “apprenticed” to professional East End masters for two days to create mosaics, ceramics, stained glass, and gold leaf artwork.


The expo showcased the students’ interpretations of their studies including gothic architecture, gargoyles, viking ships, rose windows, and tile mosaics with images of warriors, weaponry, tools, and sometimes modern objects, to communicate the intense diversity, creativity, and growth of the Middle Ages.


The masters were Mary Jaffe, who taught ceramics; Sue Lichtenstein, who specializes in stained glass; Haley MacKeil, an expert in gold leafing; and David Slater, who focused on mosaics.


“Working with stained glass was definitely quite something. Sue taught us procedures for cutting the glass and putting the pieces together, and with her help I created two masterpieces,” said eighth grader Peter Byung Jin Kim. “I'll never see stained glass in the same way. Next time I will appreciate the people who devoted their time to making a beautiful piece.”


Cultural History teacher and eighth grade team leader Mark Tompkins explained that the guild projects are the result of students immersing themselves in the Middle Ages. “From learning about Charlemagne in history class to reading Eaters of the Dead in English literature to ship building in art class, this unit had a deep impact on the students, and the detail and craftsmanship of the exhibits reflect their new knowledge.”


“Stained glass was a great experience for me, and I really enjoyed getting into details on how to craft such a beautiful piece of art,” said eighth grader Tristan Griffin, who created a glass sword with Asian and European imagery. “I thought having a samurai’s sword and a knight’s shield could clash together in a really interesting way.”