In Keri’s art class, 7-8 students are currently immersed in a macramé and design project inspired by the Quipu system, an Incan method of knot-tying and threadworks that functions as a form of language and storage of ideas. The Incas did not produce a written alphabetic language, and instead they used the quipu – the most complex of which contains several hundred carefully arranged knots – as a mobile system for recording statistical data and persevering meaningful narratives. Typically, quipus stem from a horizontal string of either cotton on wool, to which other strings are knotted in various fashions to hang vertically. The results are highly mathematical, and the portions of vertical strings and sizes of knots convey a wealth of varying information depending on their position in relation to the original, horizontal string. In addition to exploring the beauty of the products the Incas made, Keri is ensuring that her students consider the intricacies of their own designs, and specifically their long-term value, even the potential of permanence through preservation. She states, “We already have too many words, and too often they’re confusing or impermanent. But we can all speak a more universal language of pictures. I ask my students, ‘How can you use knots to tell a story?’” Through experimentation, careful planning, and constant reassessment, the Camp Robbers are therefore striving to find a language of documentation that lasts, that is not subject to changes in colloquial slang. Their stories are meant to endure within their purity as artworks, as they each produce a lasting and coded design. To do so, they’ve needed to research logistics, including diagrams and historical perspective on Incan methods, sketch their ideas, implement their own mathematical systems, and then try out their concepts. Likewise, Keri’s assignment emphasizes perseverance, as the students are expected to complete whatever project they begin, however complex or altered from the original idea it becomes during the process. The students have recently begun the tying process, which they’ll rework and revise over the next few weeks. The larger project also furthers their cultural perspective before their trip to Peru in the spring.