Sewn Together: Quilts, Incarceration, and Community

This project has many moving parts. The complexity and mulitfaceted-nature of this work is what keeps me curious and engaged.

Gracie,(age 5) learning the running stitch with just a little bit of assistance. (Greater Hudson Promise Neigborhood, April 2017)

The local institutions I partnered with include: ReEntry Columbia, an organization that provides services for returning citizens such as housing, job training and assistance with obtaining health care. 

 

I worked at the Columbia County Jail, with assistance and support by Captain Thomas Lanphear and Sheriff Bartlett. I created a simple, easy to see/count system for inspection for the necessary tools for men and women to hand-sew fabric squares. These tools consist of sewing needles, sewing pins, scissors and an assortment of fabrics. All of these items are normally contraband.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Due to the changing population of the jail, collaboration was built into the project.  The designing and sewing of each fabric block has been worked on by multiple people. 

This community engagement project is made possible with public funds from the Decentralization Program of the NYS Council on the Arts, administered in Greene County by the Columbia County Council on the Arts through the Community Arts Grants Fund.

Completed quilt hand stitched by men and women at the CCJ held by my community partners (left:) Sheriff Bartlett, Melissa Sarris, Nicole Carney, Carolyn Polikarpus, Laurie Scott, Sergeant Pat Delaney, Joanie Hunt, CaptainThomas Lanphear. Quilt was given to Columbia Opportunities and donated to a needy family.

Informal documentation by participants.

Watch video of a live reading from The Sampler: Creative Action Unlimited, Troy, NY 2017.  Actors: Krysta Dennis, Giulia Pezzulo, Bonnie Logan, Linda McKenney, Josie Smith, Maghen Ryan, John Stevenson, Stephanie Weber Remmert, and Aaron Moore.

I also worked with Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood an organization that uses the theory of change where community support is continuous from before birth through college to career, children will successfully break through the intergenerational cycle of poverty and reach their full potential. 

 

During a series of hand sewing workshops for children ages 5-8,  we learned the running stitch, whip stitch, how to sew a button on, and designed our own fabric. Along the way we thought about color, line, pattern, and design.  

I brought fabric squares made by the children at GHPN to the jail for folks to add/respond to with colorful triangle borders.  At the jail we answered the following questions:  "What do I wish I could say to my family" and "What would I like to hear from my family." These thoughts were then shown to the children at GHPN and they created hand written responses on fabric strips for the borders of their quilt.

 

Without all of the amazing support and help I have received from ReEntry Executive Director Laurie Scott, and Program Director Carolyn Polikarpus, none of this would be possible.  

(Thanks Laurie and Carolyn!)

Quilt made with the Children of Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood for their offices.

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Completed "Personality Quilts" being installed in the Columbia County Jail Lobby. During Sewn Together participants created fabric squares reflecting their personalities. Frames purchase with commissary funds. (left) Carolyn Polikarpus, Sheriff Bartlett, Melissa Sarris, Sergeant Gardner, and Laurie Scott. Hand dyed cottons, hand embroidered and quilted. Left Panel, 46 x 25"  Right Panel 25 x 25"