Fall 2016 Newsletter
(October, November, December)
It has been a month since the elections. In those first days after the election, I spent A LOT of time reading and posting articles on the internet through the LQP Facebook feed, getting into heated “virtual discussions,” etc. Then it occurred to me, that my work is continue to do the work of making the quilts and getting the work out there into the world to have “authentic” discussions with communities. I was reminded of this after a 3-hour stint I had set aside to sew and found myself wrapped up in conversations instead of doing our work. So, I’m rolling my sleeves up and getting back to work, in order to continue fighting the fight in my little corner of the world. Not say that I wont still be posting articles, but my work is in the actual world first and the virtual world second.
With that said, Fall 2016 rocked! Last week alone, I was able to meet famed quilter Faith Ringgold as she discussed 60 years of artmaking and activism.
Quilts I, II, IV and VI will be on exhibit for the Peace Learning Center’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Saturday, January 14, 2017 from 11 am – 3pm. The event will take place at Christian Theological Seminary located at 1000 W. 42nd Street in Indianapolis, IN. We’ll have opportunities to sew strips for Quilt III (bring your own sewing machine or sew by hand), donate fabric and create a family quilting project you can take home that day. So if you are in Indy, come on out and sew with us!
Other activities include being able to work on the House Poem Project at the event , discussions on race and historical trauma, drumming and so much more. For more information about the overall event, click here.
These past few months, my desire for art to be a vehicle for community healing, especially these issues around lynching has moved into many different and unexpected directions. We are in the works for exhibiting the completed quilts at 5 events over the next 3 months, as well as have on the books comprehensive exhibitions for LQP in late-2017, early-2018. The project was featured in the Fall 2016 edition of Surface Design Art in the article, The Art of Repair: Skills Sharing to Foster Community and Social Change. Click here to get a copy of the journal and use the coupon code Contributor2016 for 50% off plus shipping & handling. You can also click here to read a copy of the article on-line.
I am currently writing proposals to obtain funding to begin traveling what I am now terming Series I, which includes the original first 6 quilts:
- Quilt I: Her Name was Laura Nelson, Completed 2004
- Quilt II: RedRum Summer 1919, Completed 2014
- Quilt II: A Partial Listing, actively in progress, ETA Spring 2017
- Quilt IV: Failed State (TBD), Completed 2016
- Quilt V: The Making Quilt, actively in progress, ETA Winter 2018
- Quilt VI: Memoria: In Progress, On-going process, 2010-present
Please connect with me if you have spaces in your community we should begin to approach to exhibit the quilts, as well as create spaces for community dialogue and public programming.
Quilt IV, Failed State (TBD) is now complete! See more photos below. Coming in at 132” x 131” inches, Quilt IV is comprised of 468 blocks, more than 80% donated by participants from across the land, was a design on paper for 13 years, and took 6 years to figure out the plan of attack and gather blocks from the community and sew. But it is now complete! Thank you to everyone that contributed blocks, stitches, cutting or simple encouragement to keep working on this quilt, which was the most trying in recent years.
Thanks to Trish Williams for taking on the final steps of wrangling the quilt across the finish line. See excerpts from her journal below as she worked through the process of how to manage this behemoth. A special thanks also goes to Pam Tabor who added the final 22 quilt blocks to ensure our youth had a voice in this quilt, and Otis Grove for organizing the collection of quilt squares in the Chicago-area over the past few years and his never ending championship of the work across the spectrum and in many sectors of the community.
Quilt IV: Failed State (TBD), Completed Nov. 2016, 132' x 131"
Quilt III, A Partial Listing, is well underway. Thanks for Pam Tabor for sewing the initial round of strips. If any of you are interested in taking on sewing strips into panels and then cutting let me know. We are in full swing with this quilt with an estimated completion date of Summer 2017 at the latest.
Believe it or not, although this quilt has taken longer than anticipated this has turned out to be an important moment of kismet for Quilt III. The Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) recent work has resulted in the discovery of 1,000 additional documented men, women and children murdered by lynching. While we will never know the entire number, we can at least now include these into the quilt. So, I have started to read the documented case study to adapt the quilt to incorporate the additional numbers.
EJI is also behind the push towards a national lynching museum to be housed in Montgomery, AL. Click here to learn more about the initiative.
Quilt III: A Partial Listing, In progress, Estimated completion Summer 2017
Quilt V, The Making Quilt will be moving forward in the new year. We’ve come up with a plan of attack. If you are in the Chicago area, we’ll have a community discussion on it sometime in the coming months to see how to break down the work.
Quilt I, Her Name was Laura Nelson and Quilt II, RedRum Summer 1919 were on display at the ACLU Indiana’s Straight Outta Compton community viewing and discussion. Interesting enough the day of the discussion was the same day the police officers were shot in Texas. The speaker stood discussing the impact of the movie and this history of strained police and community relations with RedRum Summer 1919 as her backdrop. See photos below.
At this pace, it seems LQP: Series I will be coming to completion in terms of the sewing at the close of 2017 / early 2018. While this begins to wrap-up, Series II is starting to make headway in terms of design. Series II quilts focus more heavily on the impact of anti-blackness and police brutality. We are working with living victims and family members, so things will move a little slower, but we’ve started the work. These quilts include:
- Quilt VII: All Around the World the Same Song
- Quilt VIII: The Ties that Bind
- Quilts IX: Angels in America / Boyhood in Red, White and Blue
In other news, PlayStation, the portable library that combines fun childhood icons such as Lego building blocks, art supplies and books, has found a new home at the Juvenile Justice Center. Although previously housed at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, I am excited by its new home as it will allow the work to live its mission more thoroughly. Originally proposed for a homeless shelter that serviced families with children, PlayStation was conceived as a way for children in hard situations to have a moment to reclaim a small piece of childhood, to relax and be carefree while in places that robbed them of those opportunities.
Finally, beginning in February of this year, my creative compeer and I, Phyllis Viola Boyd embarked on the journey to apply for ArtPlace America’s National Creative Placemaking Award. It was an arduous process.
Our goal was simple, use art to address the vacancy issues where children walked to and from school. Prior to applying for the award, we worked on developing a Safe Routes to School effort for the community, which opened our eyes to many disturbing and unseen facts. While there were more than 70 vacant spaces in a 3-block radius of the school, it was learning about kids being sexually harassed walking to and from school that really got underneath our skin.
Needless to say, we applied with a project entitled RECLAIM and today, we were notified we won!
RECLAIM is one of 29 projects chosen, from almost 1400 applications, to receive funding through its National Creative Placemaking Fund in 2016, representing only 2% of the initial applications.
With RECLAIM, artists and designers join forces to tackle unsafe conditions in northwest Indianapolis. As a result of the installation of a highway in the 1970's and subsequent public and private disinvestment over the past 40+ years, the community has continued to fragment resulting in a lack of connection among residents. Because city government spends more than 90% of its annual budget on the public safety efforts of police, fire, animal control and code enforcement, little funding goes to infrastructure improvements or actual maintenance of vacant city-owned properties, of which a third are in this community.
As a demonstration project, RECLAIM will transform vacant spaces along an unsafe, walking corridor traveled by elementary school children into a safe pathway where blight is transformed into beauty and economic opportunity. Working with current and returning residents (whom were formerly incarcerated) to activate a series of vacant lots and houses, this community hopes to increase safety while supporting the reintegration of ex-offenders (nearly 20% or more of Indiana parolees return to the Northwest community annually), as well as create innovative pathways to new economic opportunities. To accomplish this, a series of hands-on design, business and community development workshops, in conjunction with mentorship, will build community capacity towards increased economic opportunities, which in turn may result in more economic growth and stability for the community.
Thank you for your continued support as our work towards community change through the arts keeps on movin' on. But one simple fact remains true, it could not be done without all of you.
Phyllis and I after winning the 5x5 Award. Funding from competition set the stage for kicking off The House Poem Project, which ultimately lead to RECLAIM.
REFLECTIONS ON A FAILED STATE (TBD)
Here is Trish William's reflection on her explorations of Failed State (TBD) as she wrangled the 11’ x 11’ quilt to completion.
Each quilt that I’ve worked on taught me many things about myself. I found that I interact with feelings that I had not explored or admitted. This quilt has turned me into the “Quilt Police”, which is a running joke amongst quilters. The Quilt Police are traditional quilters that “police” and look for faults in others quilts. Looking for those places where points don’t match and where things are not squared.
I saw all the faults while I worked on this one and complained about them all to myself and finally to LaShawda who pointed out that some of the blocks where made by people who had never quilted or sewn before. With that statement, I was put in check and as I continued it became a still and quite voice that reminded me that this is a community project. Those that participate understand the vision of healing and restoration. So, with gratitude I continued on and looked for ways that I too could contribute and not hinder the growth of the quilt.
I tried to quilt this on a long arm quilting machine and nothing worked out there. I spent days trying to get it done only to run into all type of problems. I got help from another quilter who had done several quilts on that machine. She too ran into problems. It was like the quilt was telling me no, that I needed to work on this one in my usual way and get the life lessons that it had to offer me. It take two days to pick out all the stitches and thread while I listened to the quilt. This made me even more frustrated. The lesson that came was to step away from the work and wait. I folded section – 1 and put it aside until the spirits of the cloth allowed me to touch it again.
Section 2 and 3 needed to be taken apart also because I was sure that I would get this done on the long arm and that lesson was an old wise one – Don’t count your chickens before the eggs hatch. Listening step-by-step to the spirit of the cloth was a good thing. I wrote in my journal the whole time about my experience and this also has been a good thing and I am grateful for the experience.
By working on Quilt IV, I learned this quilt appears to have straight lines and gives the impression that it flows like many of the paths that we travel on our life’s journey. But that this is not true. Some of these paths veer to the left and some to the right before they move on and sometimes you must repeat some of those paths.
I have learned that just as I have criticized the piecing of this quilt to myself about not being squared and properly pieced, I learned that neither is my quilting. So, who am I to judge the efforts that went into the completion of this project. I learned that I have totally missed the point of the project and therefore I must make an attitude adjustment and get back on track. As LaShawnda explained to me, “This quilt spells out the golden rule, the bill of right, bill of human rights, and post-race America principles we keep espousing but have yet to the live up to as a nation” this has been a very trying times as we had to deal with an election year and the choice has been made. Once more and again these rules, right, and principles are being shown in their true light and the world is watching.
FAILED STATE (TBD) A VISUAL JOURNEY
WHY I THINK MOST WHITE MEN ARE RACIST AND SEXIST
I’ve had lots of white men angry at me for my recent posts suggesting that “racist and sexist bias” was a major contributing factor in their votes for Trump. Many have responded with “how dare you call me a racist and sexist” comments defending their more noble motives for voting for Trump. They often end by accusing me of being racist and sexist.
My response to that accusation is “Exactly!”
It takes one to know one.
The reason I know that they are racist and sexist is because I am.
While I am not a white supremacist who believes white people superior genetically or otherwise, I have been raised in a culture where my whiteness has been defined as normative. While I do not believe women are inferior to men in any way, I have been raised in a culture where my maleness has given me many advantages and privileges. I am not free of these biases and prejudices. To my continued embarrassment, I catch myself often speaking and acting out of them.
So let me be clear. I believe most of the white men who did not vote for Trump are also racist and sexist.
Racist and sexist bias is not the primary difference between white men who voted for Trump and those who didn’t. Rather it is our awareness and acknowledgment of this reality. White men who voted for Trump either openly believe minorities or women lesser than, or they are men who are unwilling to acknowledge their unconscious biases and prejudices. I find both of these groups of men dangerous to our democracy and the American principles of equality and justice. The Supremacists are dangerous because they will attempt to destroy it. The Unconscious are dangerous because they won’t see the evidence of injustice in their own attitudes and interactions.
Why do I know the Unconscious will do this? Because I do.
Over Thanksgiving, I spent nearly two hours in a discussion about race with my white family members and I never once asked my African-American daughter-in-law or my Latino son-in-law to voice their opinions, share their fears or check my privilege. In my predominantly white family, they went unacknowledged. It wasn’t until the next day that I recognized this as more evidence of the work I still need to do around my racism and sexism. That began with apologizing to them.
So go ahead and accuse me of being as racist and sexist as you.
Guilty as charged.
Now what are you and I going to do about it?
Jim Mulholland has been a community activist in Indiana for many years. He presently directs a small community development organization doing work in Central America. He is also the father of an African-American daughter. All of these realities factor into his writing about current events.
Jim and his daughter.
Tess Asplund, with Fist Raised Against the Leadership of The Nordic Resistance Movement (Nrm). (Twitter/David Lagerlöf). Click here to learn more about her simple, but powerful stand against injustice and hate.
RESOURCES TO GET YOU STARTED
As we continue to do our work in the world, here are some additional articles and resources to assist us in having these conversations.
First, I will direct you here to The Lynch Quilts Project website, which has a list of organizational resources to help you get ready.
Second, I direct you to the site #CharlestonSyllabus, which has resulted in a nearly 20 page bibliography of articles, books, research, etc. that explore race in America. In addition, you can click here to purchase the book (Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism and Racial Violence), which is a condensed version of the on-line syllabus.
Finally, below are a series of articles that explore these issues that have become more focused on the national spotlight in regards
Understanding the past persecution of black Americans is crucial to understanding the racism that pervades the country today.
Insight, Violence and Resistance
We must continue to be the light!
Quilt I, Her Name was Laura Nelson, exhibition in January 2017.
Quilt II, RedRum Summer 1919, exhibition in January 2017.
Quilt III, A Partial Listing, actively in production.
Quilt IV, Failed Stated . . . TBD, is completed as of November 2016 with exhibition in January 2017.
Quilt V, The Making Quilt, actively in production.
Quilt VI, Memoria: In Progress, will be exhibited in California this fall.
Quilt VII, All Around the World the Same Song, still forming and making itself in my mind.
Quilt VIII, The Ties That Bind, its launched and moving. Recently renamed from All My Relations.
Quilt IX, Angles in America: Boyhood in Red, White and Blue, still forming and making itself in my mind and requires additional partnerships we are exploring.
PLEASE ACCEPT MY APOLOGY
I apologize if you are receiving this newsletter in error. A recent technical glitch required me to rebuild the database, which meant combining multiple email accounts, listserves and handwritten sign-in sheets. I have multiple emails without names attached. As such, I am sure I missed a few as I tried to delete as many as possible, before it became kinda exhausting given there are hundreds upon hundreds of supporters. So if you are here and not by choice, I apologize. Please simply unsubscribe.
Creative Power for Social Change!
Fighting for a racially healed and just future, since 2002.