I’ve completed the fourth in my accidental series of protest quilts. This one is called “Rise Up” and it features a crazy pieced, then appliqued and stuffed, symbol representing woman.”
What it Means to Me:
One of the most heartening events since the election was the Women’s Marches that occurred all over the United States and all over the world the day after the Presidential Inauguration. Women, men, and children left the comfort of their homes and rose up. They marched, they protested, and they made clear that joking about sexual assault would not be tolerated, that denying women access to health care would not be tolerated, that rolling back women’s hard-fought human rights would not be tolerated. They showed with their feet and with their voices that they were ready to fight. There is great power that comes from women rising up together and that gives me hope.
The woman symbol in this piece is created from a crazy patchwork of pink fabrics to represent that diversity of women who have come together. The symbol is stuffed to represent the act of rising up. Quilting lines radiate from the symbol to represent the impact that comes from action when we rise up together as women and as a nation.
Work on my unexpected protest series continued this week with a new piece called “Alternative Facts.” I first created the letter blocks, sewed them together, and then slashed the top and resewed it over and over again. I captured the in-process pictures and created a 33 second video of them; if you’d like to see the steps along the way, here’s the video: Making of Alternative Facts. I quilted the piece in gray threads to reflect that “alternative facts” take something that should be clear in black and white and changes it to gray. I left the quilting thread tails loose to emphasize the messiness this creates when facts become distorted and disputed.
Alternative Facts, 2017. 15″ x 24″
What this piece means to me:
I have not been able to get over my shock over the mere idea that there could be such a thing as “alternative facts.” I can see how deeply divided our country is and it is a division that I want us to fix and believe we need to, but if we cannot even agree on what the facts are, how can we? I accept that people can look at the same facts and reach different conclusions. I accept that there will be differences of opinion. But, if the facts themselves are under dispute and the Administration actually believes there is something called “alternative facts” where can the constructive dialogue that we need to have to heal these divisions begin? I’m afraid that it can’t and that we will be left with just loose threads.
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.