Monday, November 9, 2009

Dr. Gaither on Community Quilting Projects

Last week Dr. Gaither received the Legacy Award from the Four Rivers Heritage Area based on a nomination I submitted on her work with the community with a special focus on the J2WH project. As I wrote the nomination, I went through old emails dating back to the very beginning of the J2WH project when we had only just agreed to display the quilt and host quilting sessions. As I read those emails, I came across the following passage Dr. Gaither wrote in one of the emails on why she is doing so much community quilting work. In light of the upcoming Black Watermen of the Chesapeake quilt public quilting sessions beginning this week, I thought I would share a part of that email.

I wanted to share the communal activity of the quilting process, as I did for the other quilts in the series, with those in my multiple communities. There is great joy, celebration, storytelling, and reflection that occurs when multiple storytellers come together in this very accessible creative process. I believe that each of us has a story that only we can tell and NEEDS telling. What greater time than the present to stop and reflect on this moment in time and record a permanent response to leave for the "generation not yet born." It is my hope that in sharing the process with my communities, this will give them cause to reflect on or to continue to reflect on their place in history, important people, places, and events that have helped to shape their lives and want to expressively respond in some creative manner. My format is documentary story quilts; others might write poetry, create a video, sculpt - wherever their reflections and artistic thoughts take them.

The Black Watermen of the Chesapeake quilt is truly a community effort that will incoporate many different groups through the images on the quilt, the stories collected, the people participating in the sessions, and those who simply come to see the quilt. During the J2WH community quilting sessions that took place in December 2008 and January 2009, nearly 500 people participated in the creation of that magnificent artwork. From the early feedback we are receiving, it appears the Black Watermen of the Chesapeake quilting sessions will be even larger.

We are very excited for the next two weeks and look forward to sharing the quilt. Please come and join us for a truly unforgettable experience.

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