CONGRATULATIONS MARCH GRANT RECIPIENT, RACHEL WALLIS!
Click here to learn about our other March artist grant recipient, Malesha Taylor.
(Courtesy of generous donations through the Network for Good.)
Congratulations to Rachel Wallis on a successful grant application!
The following is Rachel's application:
I am an activist who uses art in my organizing work, and an artist who engages in issues of racial and social justice. As a primarily self-taught textile artist, practicing for over a decade, my work spans the divide between fine art and craft. I believe that traditional textile techniques, particularly quilting, can provide a fertile platform for creating dialog and understanding around complex ideas and issues. Quilting has a rich history in diverse communities in the US. For generations quilting has created spaces for women to build community, support each other, and organize. I believe that community quilts allow us to tackle overwhelming subjects, like the toll of homicide on marginalized communities in Chicago, the legacy of violence by the Chicago Police Department, the history of textiles in the slave economy, and the impact of incarceration on families. The slow process of stitching occupies our hands and slows our minds. It forces us to travel from the general to the particular. The meditative act of embroidering engenders a kind of radical empathy. Rather than seeing this person as a statistic or a criminal, we take the time to imagine their lives and families, thinking about the people who loved and lost them. Working with anywhere from a dozen to hundreds of people, I have created striking textile pieces that serve as a visual record of the issues at hand, while deepening our relationships with each other and strengthening movements for justice.
Quilts serve to mark and celebrate relationships in families. We make them to celebrate births and weddings, and to mourn deaths. They have been passed down within families, from generation to generation, for hundreds of years. For millions of families, however, the relationships between generations has been ruptured by incarceration. The Inheritance Quilt addresses the issue of family separation and mass incarceration in two ways: by working with incarcerated mothers to create quilts for their children, and by using community quilting circles outside of the prison walls to foster public conversations about mass incarceration.
My community quilting projects have a huge impact with a relatively small investment. Utilizing donated supplies and materials and hundreds of volunteer hours, I'm able to engage diverse communities in rich conversations about some of the most pressing issues in our country.
During the summer and fall of 2018, Rachel Wallis and collaborators taught two, five week classes with groups of women in the Cook County Detention Center. The women wrote and shared stories about their family relationships, and the idea of inheritance – what was passed down to them and what they want to pass along to their children. They each designed an original quilt for someone in their family. Volunteer quilters outside of the jail will sew each woman a quilt based on their designs, and mail them to the recipient of their choice. At the same time, community quilting circles will be creating one large quilt based on all of the women's designs, and embroidering sections of their writing onto it.
Volunteer quilters are currently at work on the second round of quilts for the project right now, and I'm hosting the next round of quilting circles for the project in Chicago in April. $250 would go a long way towards covering the material, shipping, and supply costs for the individual quilts and the larger collective piece we're working on.
To learn more about Rachel's community quilting projects, including Inheritance Quilt, Gone But Not Forgotten and Unraveling Empire, visit her website at www.rachelawallis.com.
Integrity: Arts and Cultural Association is pleased to assist in funding Rachel's proposal! We wish her the best in her future artistic endeavors.