After 15 months of work, my Victims quilt is complete.
The finished quilt is 112″ square and is too large for me to adequately photograph. Each 8″ block contains the name of a victim of a major mass shooting event in the U.S. I chose to focus on events that claimed the lives of more than ten people in one day. Those events are:
- Columbine High School, CO (4/20/1999) – 13 people killed
- Virginia Tech, VA (4/16/2007) – 32 people killed
- Binghamton, NY (4/3/2009) – 13 people killed
- Fort Hood, TX (11/5/2009) – 13 people killed
- Aurora, CO (7/20/2012) – 12 people killed
- Sandy Hook Elementary, CT (12/14/2012) – 27 people killed
- Washington, D.C. (9/16/2013) – 12 people killed
- San Bernadino, CA (12/2/2015) – 14 people killed
- Orlando, FL (6/12/2016) – 49 people killed
The block designs are representative of the state in which the shooting occurred.
Today is the fourth anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary in Connecticut. I’m just full of good cheer, right? I hadn’t realized how devastatingly close the shooting was to Christmas and Hanukkah until the other day when I was double checking my list of names for the Victims quilt to make sure that I hadn’t missed anyone before I started quilting blocks. I had the very macabre thought that I was checking my list twice like Santa and that’s when I focused on the date of the Sandy Hook shooting. How heart-wrenching it must have been for those parents to throw out the half-used advent calendars, pull the stockings from the mantle, and return or donate the unopened presents stashed away in closets. So today, in the midst of my own Christmas prep, I stop for a moment to hold those families in the light.
185 blocks won’t fit on my design wall.
I have come up with a good alternative name for my previously-named “No More Names” quilt. I am thinking of calling it simply “Victims.” I decided that I don’t need to make the overt statement about the purpose of the quilt by calling it “No More Names.” Instead, I can let the victims speak for themselves through their presence in the quilt. That is really my purpose after all.
I started a new quilt, though it’s not a happy one. The week after the attack at the night club in Orlando, I was sitting at my machine, sewing the very pretty blue and white quilt for my bedroom and thinking about the news. I found myself just heart sick thinking about how epidemic the mass shootings seem to have become in the U.S. and an idea for a quilt, a “protest quilt,” as I am calling it, floated down into my head, fully-formed. But, I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy project emotionally so I actually looked up at the sky and said to the Muse, “Really?” and like a petulant child, “Do I have to?” I sighed and took it on.
The quilt will have one block with the name of each victim of a mass shooting in the United States during the last 20 years. When I started doing research and realized just how many people that was, I added the parameter that I would only cover attacks with ten or more victims, which unfortunately means not including the recent Charleston church attack, but still means about 186 blocks. Yes, that’s right, 186 people have died in mass shootings with more than 10 victims during the last 20 years.
The blocks will be representative of the state flag of the state in which the attacks occurred. Here’s the first set of blocks, memorializing the victims of the Columbine School shooting in Colorado in 1999.