Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Is In the Air

Every spring brings about an urge to conduct spring cleaning - organizing and purging the clutter we have accumulated over the past year. When this happens people find items they "lost" and discover memory-evoking objects that they reminisce over. For people who have come into contact with documentary story quilting, it almost inevitably leads to a desire to collect those objects and put them in a quilt. This spring, slow coming as it is, has been no exception.

This past Thursday community members and organization representatives formed a continuous parade through Dr. Gaither's studio seeking assistance with several quilting projects. The projects ranged from a church celebrating its 170th anniversary to a local heritage organization documenting its accomplishments over the past 10 years and finally two separate families documenting their history through the lives and legacies of family members long gone.

I had the privilege of participating in a few of these meetings/quilting sessions where Dr. Gaither helped to advise the quilters on how to proceed with their pieces. The final meeting of the day involved a family documenting the story of a family patriarch who was critical to the foundation of a local African American community in Anne Arundel County. During this quilting session, the project's leader brought his daughter to participate for the first time. Throughout the session he shared copies of documents and told stories about the history of his family, many of which his daughter had not heard before that day. In a short amount of time, she was "hooked," wanting to come back to help work on the quilt.

The quilt is in its early stages but it is progressing quickly. Over the period of two brainstorming sessions and four quilting sessions, a quilt measuring 7-8 feet in length has emerged including a full body representation of the family patriarch. The family members are including personal touches including using a copy of one of the family member's hands stuffed with batting to create the hand for the figure. 

So why am I writing about this? As you do your spring cleaning, be aware of what you are cleaning/donating/purging. When you find something that causes you to pause and remember, write down the memory, share it with a family member, and/or save the object to use in a documentation project. The spring holiday season is upon us and families will be gathering to celebrate. Use this as an opportunity to share and record memories. Graduation season will soon be here and a gift idea that is quickly growing in popularity is a t-shirt quilt. Before you throw away/donate/turn into extra cleaning rags take a minute to see if you would like to turn those old t-shirts filled with memories from school into a lasting memento.

Happy spring cleaning everyone, or should I say happy documentation gathering?!?!


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Houston said...

This is fantastic!