On August 1st the craftivism exhibition Crafting Democracy: Fiber Arts and Activism opened at the Central Library in Rochester, New York. My quilted hanging Persistent Stitches I (above) is one of the artworks included in the show — my first juried exhibition, in which I am delighted to join — as a fellow exhibitor — my quilting teacher Kate Herron Gendreau along with many other craftivists. Below is my artist statement which is featured in the exhibition catalog.
Persistent Stitches I
Ancestors all behind
And before me every child
I bring the power of a long unbroken line…
~ Zo Tobi, “Blessed Unrest” (2013)
In the final months of the 2016 presidential election campaign, I began to cross stitch the Hillary Clinton campaign logo, with the arrow crossing an H, in hopes of commemorating the historic moment when the United States elected its first woman president. I chose the version of the logo centered within a heart, and stitched the piece in the colors of the U.S. woman suffrage campaign: purple, white, and gold. On the evening of election day, I sat down to watch the election returns while working on the cross stitch piece. When it became clear that the electoral college would swing in favor of Donald Trump, I went to bed for a sleepless night thinking of the terrifying future the 2016 election had delivered us. In the dates that followed, I didn’t have the heart to pick up the Hillary campaign cross stitch to complete it. Eventually, I set it aside with the vague notion of reworking it into a larger piece documenting “the resistance” as it evolved.
Persistent Stitches I takes that 2016 cross stitch as a building block for this quilted hanging. In the quilt, the incomplete campaign logo becomes the second of five squares in quilt that represent windows looking into past actions and future possibilities. Growing out of each window are tenacious vines, finding root in the cracks and crevices of these past, present, and future events. When the piece is finished, the embroidered vines will flower with images and words collected from friends and family members representing the ways in which they have sustained themselves, their communities, and their world in a time of brokenness with a commitment to taking action toward a more equitable and sustainable future. In this piece, the unfinished Hillary campaign symbol is both overtaken by and incorporated into a dense, living tangle of past, present, and future social justice labor.
Dimensions: 43” x 13.5”
Materials: Cotton fabric, cotton batting, embroidery floss.