J2WH was deinstalled this morning and what a sigh-worthy moment it was. When Dr. Gaither and one of her students, Sarah, arrived at BDM this morning to take the quilt down we all took a moment to reflect on the departure of the quilt and the many events that have taken place along its journey thus far. I asked Dr. Gaither to talk about the process of creating the quilt and how it came to be at the Banneker-Douglass Museum on film partially so that we would have a record of the exhibit but also to help reflect on a fantastic and inspiring exhibition. As Dr. Gaither spoke about the journey, I couldn't help but reflect on the many amazing stories and events I was witness to during this exhibition. Watching people come in only to stop talking and stare at the quilt or exclaim "wow," reading the comments in the book accompanying the quilt in the museum, sharing the story of the quilt and watching the many visitors get excited and ask questions, looking at the statistics for this blog as they climbed higher and higher with hits coming in from more and more areas throughout the globe, and helping to share this fabulous artwork with so many people it is little wonder why I am sad to see J2WH leave.
As for what is next, J2WH is going in for "repairs." Repairs isn't really the right word. A tune up perhaps if I am going to stick with car terminology. Dr. Gaither will be working with several folks to tighten up loose stitches, more firmly secure the rod pockets that held the quilt onto the mounting rod, and fix a few things on the body of the quilt as well as work to get out all of the dust the fabric picked up while hanging on the brick wall. If you are wondering why they would need to work on the rod pockets since it was hung for several months, this picture should help explain why. Yes those are staple removers in their hands. In order to help secure the quilt to the rod, the pockets were literally stapled to the wooden pole just in case some of the pockets didn't hold against the weight of the extra embellishments from the quilting workshops.
As the previous posting announces, J2WH will be packing up and going on tour beginning in December of this year. The quilt will go with the other quilts in the American Series for a city-wide quilt exhibition in Hartford, Connecticut. If you live in the area, be sure to stay tuned for more details on how you can see the quilts and participate in one of Dr. Gaither's workshops.
If you would like to get involved in Dr. Gaither's latest quilt, here is your chance. Dr. Gaither is currently working on the final installment to the American Series focusing on the black watermen of the Chesapeake. Dr. Gaither will open this quilt to the general public to add their own stitches just as she did for J2WH. There will be a quilting session here at the Banneker-Douglass Museum on 14 November and at the Captain Salem Avery House in Shady Side, MD on 21 November. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.
For my last "what's next" segment, I want to let you know that the blog will continue and follow J2WH as it goes out on tour around the country. Please come back and read about its progress as well as find out more information on some of Dr. Gaither's other works. For an extra special treat, be on the look out for a possible posting from Dr. Gaither herself. While the previous posting was written in her name, it was a group effort to try to teach her how to blog. I have given her a few weeks to practice before I ask her to do a posting completely on her own. I guess this is my own way of teasing her as she teased me in the days leading up to the start of the J2WH exhibition about handing her more work to do.
Finally I would like to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who came out to add their stitches to the quilt, to those who came to view the quilt, to those who participated in the workshops, to those who read this blog, to those who shared the story of J2WH. The past 10 months have been a gratifying and humbling experience for everyone involved in this project and we are profoundly grateful. I especially want to thank Dr. Gaither for all that she has done on behalf of, well, everyone listed above. Without your inspiration, talent, boundless energy, generosity, and spirit none of this would have ever happened in the first place. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to make our own mark on this important time in America's history. We now send this quilt on knowing that many others around the world will be able to share in the amazing journey we have been privileged to be a part of over the past 10 months.
Genevieve Kaplan & Dr. Joan M. E. Gaither