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Knotty Magic

This was an online workshop designed and initiated by Leilei Xia and Rohini Maiti. The workshop was aimed at people who were looking to strengthen their self-learning skills and tap into the art of community learning. 

Over the course of 4 weeks, a group of 15 amazing individuals from all over the globe, met up in the digital realm of Zoom. With a modified version of the game, A Quiet Year by Avery Alder, we spent each weekly session imagining, researching, and mapping an entirely created world. The story building elements were enjoyed and celebrated, with new forms of politics, mythic legends, divination methods, and supernatural occurrences being explored in groups. Not only did those explorations reveal knowledge about ourselves and each other, but they eventually led all the participants to engage in extraordinary research and creative development. Topics that were investigated were, but not limited to, topology in mathematics and biology, sacred geometry, poetry & literature, binding and weaving in culture and art, archaic mythology and folklore, gesture, dance, and performance! 

We even featured guest speakers Dr. Allison Moore, a mathematician and professor at the Department of Mathematics in VCU with a specialty in knot theory and topology, and Jonathan Molina-Garcia, an artist and professor at the Department of Photography/Film in VCU with an interest in the role of magic in art and politics. 


Core Team


While Leilei is a matured expert in the world of interactive art-workshops and story-building, Rohini is active in the study of the nature of curiosity and its role in education and community. Together, the two wanted to experiment with the possibilities of using interactive tools, such as ‘play’ or magic, to learn about knot theory. The element of game, performance, and role-playing, was incorporated into the workshop as a bridge into the journey through curiosity. Reminding participants of the excitement of learning. 


Finally the entire workshop was a joint effort between all of the participants, and especially members of the ICOSA Magazine, who often acted as co-hosts of the workshop, helping facilitate sessions, troubleshooting, language translation, and more. 

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