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Hip Hop Sew

A project for youth translating the rhythm, tempo and beat of Hip Hop music into color, pattern, and quilt design.

During the summer of 2018 I worked with kids ranging in age from 5 - teens at the Troy Boys and Girls Club in Troy, NY. Through a variety of age appropriate activities, youth experimented with the craft of sewing and quilt design while incorporating their interests in music and culture. 


I created a survey for teens to list favorite music and begin the conceptual process of translating music into line. I created geometric fabric-covered magnets for 7-9 year olds to hand color with fabric pastels. The five year olds made custom-colored hand prints on fabric. Staff added their names with fabric markers to colorful strips of fabric. Both were later added to the final quilt.

Everyone participated in an exercise I called Blind Abstract Expressionist Drawing. Kids listened to unfamiliar music such as works by John Cage and Gamelan while blindfolded. They worked collectively on large pieces of paper using the beat and tempo of the music to inspire gestural mark making. Watch the video edited by Emily Haliotis here.


Giant thank you to Andre Lind, Youth Staff Supervisor. Without his tireless support, this project would not have been successful. With 10-12 year old participants showing their handiwork.


Throughout the summer, I worked with a core group of 10-12 year olds who continually amazed me with their insights and enthusiasm for all things stitched. Weekly projects included experimenting with geometric designs, translating line into embroidery, and using color and abstraction for translating emotion. Everyone learned to hand sew and took turns using a sewing machine to complete mini projects they could take home. 


(left) Exhibition sign: image digitally printed on fabric with hand stitched embellishment. 24 x 24" (right) Participant at opening trying Abstract Expressionist Drawing station.

At the end of the summer, I created an exhibition at the Arts Center of Troy, New York to celebrate all of our work and the fun we had. This included the video with fabric embellished headphones, a fabric-covered magnet making station, a Blind Abstract Expressionist Drawing station with a compilation of teen music favorites, and the quilt as installation.

Completed quilt installed at the Troy Boys and Girls Club, Troy, New York . Hand dyed cottons, hand quilted and embroidered.(left panel: 63 x 57" right panel 63 x 31").

This project was made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by The Arts Center of the Capital Region.

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