ArtCorps Program Manager, Jane Martha Oslin, explains, “ArtCorps has worked in Central America with communities affected by immigration for over ten years, and we are very excited to share our creative strategies for building stronger communities on the US side of the border.”
The Welcoming movement brings people together to foster understanding among diverse groups. The Welcoming Quilt strengthens this goal by drawing on ArtCorps’ expertise in using the arts to help communities envision and construct a peaceful and productive future. Whether designing a piece for the quilt, stitching the pieces together or engaging in dialogue with their neighbors, participants will share their cultures, connect with one another and take away new understanding about the role they can play in creating more welcoming communities. As part of this project, members of the Welcoming Massachusetts chapter along with other local ArtCorps partners will be trained to facilitate the Welcoming Quilt activity in their respective cities and towns.
Welcoming Massachusetts Coordinator Cristina Aguilera, works for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), which is spearheading the statewide Welcoming Massachusetts initiative. She comments, “When groups are different from each other, they are prone to see each other through the lenses of stereotypes. It is when immigrants and non-immigrants come together for community-building activities like the Welcoming Quilt that stereotypes are broken.”
The Welcoming Quilt was inspired by Creative Activist Clara Wainwright’s “mending projects.” One of Clara’s signature projects is Mending Baghdad, a four and a half by six and a half foot quilt memorializing Baghdad as it looked during the American bombing on the first nights of the Iraq war. She intentionally left the quilt unfinished (the pieces were glued down but not stitched together) as a way for the public to symbolically “mend” Baghdad. “Mending Baghdad” workshops were held at the DeCordova Museum, the Cape Ann Museum and the Harvard Kennedy School, sparking reflection and dialogue.
The public is invited to participate in the launch of the Welcoming Quilt at the Raising Spirits gala on Thursday, September 20, 2012 from 6:00-9:00 pm at the Willowdale Estate in Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield, MA: http://www.artcorp.org/
During the week of September 15th, 2012, Welcoming America affiliates and partners across the country will participate in National Welcoming Week, a nationwide event that will promote meaningful connections and a spirit of unity between U.S. and foreign-born Americans by providing opportunities to learn about each other and work together for the greater good. Visit the Welcoming Massachusetts calendar (http://welcomingma.org/
Over the last 12 years, ArtCorps (//http://artcorp.org) has accelerated the process of social change by training organizations and the communities they serve in innovative strategies for education, community engagement and leadership development. Our methodology taps into the power of the arts-based strategies--such as murals, theater, radio and music--to unlock creative potential, transfer critical knowledge and inspire long-term behavior change.