Women, Peace and Security Quilt Gallery
To read the artist’s statement that accompanies each quilt, please scroll down. If the artist’s name is highlighted, that is a link to their website or blog.
Corinne Beque, Geneva, Switzerland
I believe in the power of words. From books to names on a voting ballot to UN resolutions, words can, words should, help women take charge of their own lives. And thereby create a better future for all.
I have used blue, the color of the UN, for my quilt and embroidered words all over it. It is a patchwork of scraps recycled from the used clothing or sewing boxes of the women of my life: daughters, sister, mother, grandmother and friends and is a tribute to how women can always make something out of nothing.
The quote about women is by the French poet Louis Aragon. “Woman is the future of man.”
Despair and Hope
Carolyn Carson, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
website: Carolyn Carson
The weeping woman depicted in the piece, representative of all women, is juxtaposed against a sunrise with butterflies, suggesting hope. Women worldwide are victims of multiple types of oppression, assault and discrimination. These issues have concerned me for my entire adult life. This piece calls attention to that horrific fact and yet suggests that there is hope if more people are cognizant of the issues and work to make change.
I use the art quilt as a medium to express my horror at the condition of women globally because textile work, in many cultures and throughout time, is – and has been – the work of women. I have used the time-honored techniques of hand spinning, crochet, embroidery, applique and quilting in order to convey the reality of female oppression. Materials include cotton batiks and handspun wool.
(Note: Sadly, this first quilt in blue disappeared from Switzerland at an exhibit in 2010. Any information leading to the return of the quilt would be greatly appreciated and would be a tribute to the artist who created the quilt in support of this exhibit and the cause of women in conflict areas).
Susan McEntree Comeaux, Lafayette, Louisiana
This quilt is part of a series, which pays homage to the quilts of African American slaves. The fertility motif is from an appliquéd crib quilt made by slaves for personal use. The inkjet image on silk is an original drawing. It is believed quilts were used in the south as forms of communication in the Underground Railroad movement to help slaves seeking their freedom to escape north before and during the American Civil War. It is an understatement to say that African American women were victims of violence during the time of slavery in the United States. Women still face tremendous violence on a global scale. I do believe the long arc of the moral universe bends toward justice, and conditions will improve for the lives of women. We have made progress and we continue to make progress in the United States since the Civil War, and I pray that women will know freedom from the violence of war and abuse in all nations. This quilt is a reminder to look back in history to find the inspiration we need to reach up, and each in our small way, to help bend that arc towards justice.
I am privileged to make things with my hands. I believe it is better to create and in creating I feel solidarity with women who also make things with their hands from all villages of our planet.
Jennifer Day, Santa Fe, New Mexico
website: Jennifer Day
Siempre Esperanza – always hope – is the spirit behind this quilt. The woman is from Oaxaca, Mexico. Her sweet smile is all the more stirring in light of the skeleton bones behind her. With all of the strife revolving around the drug wars in Mexico, this image is especially moving. Mexican women of all ages are living through the relentless destruction of family and friends at the hands of the drug cartels. In spite of it all, the undying hope of the women rises to the surface allowing them to smile with the knowledge that they are strong and will keep their loved ones together even if only in memories.
I use my own photographs in my quilts. The woman in this quilt is covered entirely in thread. Her image is made up of over 40 different colors of thread. The background is free motion embroidery. It is my honor to have been able to create this image of a woman who knows that she is powerful and will endure.
(Note: Sadly, this quilt disappeared from Switzerland at an exhibit in 2010. Any information leading to the return of the quilt would be greatly appreciated and would be a tribute to the artist who created the quilt in support of this exhibit and the cause of women in conflict areas).
Symbols of Peace
Zahra Golami, Iran
Zahra’s quilt motifs are a gun in a cage, a freed peace dove and a secure woman, with a design created by her nephew, a design student.
Not only the love of quilting enticed Effat and Zahra to participate in this exhibit but also the title and the idea behind it meant a lot to them – since they know a lot about human despair in the world and always prayed and longed for peace, security and freedom for their loved ones, friends and all humanity. For them who felt so hopeless in the times of the human hardship, to be part of a greater cause for peace and security is a dream come true. Perhaps their prayers have been answered in a very mysterious way. After all, once again they come to believe that there is hope for peace and security in the world for all. There is opportunity for every one of us to work toward it in every way we can. Together we can and will be safe.
Let the Sunshine in and Raise your Voices in Unison
Anna Hergert, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada
website: Anna Hergert
My challenge quilt specifically addresses the issue of Women, Peace and Security in the form of provoking analytical thinking. Let us all rally for Middle Eastern women that they NOT remain faceless AND voiceless during the process of forming new governments. Women must be a vital part of the solution!
The collective spirit empowers women around the world whether rich or poor, covered or uncovered, old or young, oppressed or free, no matter what our skin colour or spiritual convictions. Let us find strength and courage in Margaret Mead’s powerful words “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Strife and Serenity
Rose Legge, Fairplay, Colorado
website: Rose Legge
My approach is to portray a woman who is in a turbulent situation but dreams of a better life. Elements of both strife and serenity are in this piece, symbolized by a bare tree, a bird, etc. In the background I have drawn words freehand and added more layers of color. The face is complete and has a burka appliqued on to it.
(Sadly, this quilt was destroyed in a house fire before it was mailed to Quilt for Change)
Lea McComas, Superior, Colorado
website: Lea McComas
Women, the world over, toil daily to provide essentials for their families. They strive to provide such tangibles as food, clothing, shelter, and the intangibles of safety, security, and love. Such tasks are further complicated by relentless threats of destruction. Women find themselves continually mending the fabric of their lives, trying to restore beauty and function in the aftermath of war, greed, and lust. This quilt began as a collage of photos collected over a decade of living, working, and traveling overseas. Many are my own. A friend who has traveled extensively as a medical volunteer contributed others. The quilt top was then torn, cut, burned and shot; literally, tearing families apart. Finally, the woman’s hands are shown working to stop the destruction, mend the damage, and repair the vision.
What if She Were Your Daughter?
Holly McCoy, Madison, Wisconsin
I became more aware of human trafficking from a television documentary on sex trafficking of girls into the United States from Southeast Asia. The show left me haunted by images of the faces of the girls and women. But in 2009 I became aware of sexual trafficking in my own backyard. I learned that the State of Rhode Island had the distinction of being the only state in the United States that allowed indoor prostitution outside certain counties near Las Vegas. This made Rhode Island a haven for international sex trafficking activity. When a representative of the Coalition Against Human Trafficking showed me where some brothels existed in our downtown business section of Providence, I was shocked. I had walked past some of these buildings numerous times oblivious to the darkness that transpired around me. Human trafficking generates 32 billion dollars in revenue each year. 162 countries are affected by human trafficking. 800,000 victims are brought across international borders each year with 80% being women or girls. 70% of female victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation. How do these women survive? Do they wonder why no one acts on their behalf? I was told the girls get moved from state to state frequently. I am relieved to say that in 2010 Rhode Island made indoor prostitution illegal, and now provides care for the victims instead of arresting them. And in 2011, the State of Rhode Island charged two men with sex trafficking and some women were rescued. A small dent but at least we are now moving in the right direction. All I could think was, what if it were my daughter?
Eleanor Michonski, Shelby, Michigan
Women woven together in their separate lives. Women in situations they did not seek. War, flood, earthquake, fire, rape. Women with children, waiting for family, fearing the worst. Women with men they fear. Women alone in depression and oppression. Women capable of love and living, trapped in prisons not of their making. Women with AIDS, women awaiting the birth of a child they are afraid of. Hard-working women whose hands create love. We offer empathy and a hope of peace and protection as we become also part of the woven pattern of womanhood. The vertical rainbow stripes represent hope and happiness. The horizontal bands of leather are painful reminders of bondage of different types. The sketches are my original art work, inspired by photos of current events, thoughtful introspection and just plain emotion.
Dawn Piasta, Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada
The task of gathering water for the family is typically done by the woman. She may travel miles each day & the journey is long and dangerous. In conflict areas of the world women are pursued at watering holes and are at risk of being the target of the most brutal weapon of war: rape. Women and girls are being attacked, not only to dehumanize the women themselves but to humiliate, punish, control, inflict fear and displace women and to persecute the community to which they belong. The perpetrators of attacks on civilians, including sexual violence against women, must be brought to justice in trials that meet international standards of fairness. The safety of victims and witnesses must be protected.
One Female at a Time
B.J. Reid, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Peace and security in women’s lives have been issues for me for quite some time. All forms of physical and mental abuse, whether inflicted by family, friend or invader, are truly abhorrent. When given to women, the actions behind the words quilted here (beginning with ‘love’, revealing a message and ending with ‘equality’) bring peace to women keeping them safe and secure – one female at a time.
Peace and Security Would be a Dream Come True
Effat Saniee, Iran
Her love of quilting, learned when she lived in Dauphin, Canada, gave Effat a chance to make a difference on a scale she had never imagined possible from her home in Iran, so she speaks through her quilt. The different blocks represent different images and ideas – a figure of a woman, mother of pearl (symbol of womb and motherhood), an aromatic flower (representing the poem saying God created the aromatic flowers and from their aroma created woman), a peace dove, a green tree (symbol of security), and a butterfly (symbol of freedom).
Bonnie J. Smith, San Jose, California
website: Bonnie Smith
What to say? What to do?
What have we learned?
Can we learn? Look at the past!
Please look at the past!
Please learn from the past!
They worked so hard for us!
Please learn from the past!
Don’t make their work be for nothing!
Don’t let us slide back!
Keep moving forward!
Don’t forget the past!
I think we have forgotten the past!
But we can change that. We can learn.
Keep moving forward!
It is just not for you, it is for all women!
Keep moving forward! Please!
Yes, we will keep moving forward.
All of us will keep moving forward!
We will not forget what they did for us!
We must help all women wherever they may be!
Yes, that is what we will do,
We will keep moving forward!
So maybe we have learned!
Kamiuingi Koyaga Ndiri – Together, We Can
Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga Stewart, San Antonio, Texas
website: Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga
This quilt depicts images of five women carrying a heavy load on their heads. Their mental and physical strength and resiliency are symbolized by their heads made of metal. The heavy weight of their load is symbolized by the basket made of steel. The hopes and success of this heavy lifting is symbolized by the fruits (of their labor) sprouting from the basket. It takes courage and strength to put a heavy load on the head and still walk tall. The heads of the five women on the quilt represent the five continents; the universality of the mission of the women of the world in search of peace and security. As we redefine our concepts of the boundaries of our communities, and share responsibility for one another, we will discover that working together towards peace and security is one of the foundations for both our individual and collective response. “Kamuingi Koyaga Ndiri” is a proverb from the Kikuyu people of Kenya which means “Together, we can.”
The Rainbow Staircase
Nairn Stewart, Squamish, BC, Canada
The Rainbow Staircase illustrates the diversity of people and cultures in the world. The individual steps, which are high relative to the size of the figures, represent the obstacles which threaten women’s security. The figures on the steps and waiting to ascend are the women of the world. By working together they can rise above the obstacles to reach peace and security, which women everywhere seek for themselves, their families, their communities and the human family.
The Ripple Effect
Trish Vessey, Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada
Because of the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building, I see this quilt, of the pond and drop of water creating a ripple effect, as a representation of not only one person, but several women coming together, being strong and reaching out, rippling out to all women of the world everywhere. Just one drop can ripple out and help foster gender equality and empowerment of women.
The Doors are Opening
Susan Wittrup, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Women the world over are standing up and demanding their place. Due to their efforts slowly but surely the doors are beginning to open. In my quilt, I am celebrating this progress. The building has been deliberately left generic to allow the viewer to decide if it is a school, a hospital, the throne of power, a safe haven… it is all of these things and more. The important thing is that the doors are opening and as they do so, the women are coming. The old, the young, mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers of all shapes, colors, beliefs are all marching forward, pushing the doors open further ever day, changing the world, making it a better place for everyone. This effort is happening without guns, without war. What is making it successful is constantly putting one foot in front of the other in a steady and persistent movement forward. Most of these women are anonymous, faceless. They see a need and move to meet it without leaving their signature behind. Consequently, the women in my quilt are presented without faces while using bright colors to symbolize their energy and their determination. As a woman, I have pushed some doors open, I have held the door for others, and many others have held the door for me. No matter how many barriers we overcome, there always seems to be another but this never stops us. What I find most encouraging is that no matter how many fences there are, women are an inexorable force bound to open the world up for full participation from everyone. It is exciting, it is powerful, and it is inevitable.
Allison Wilbur, Barrington, Rhode Island
website: Allison Wilbur
At refugee camps like Iridimi in Western Chad, women who have been driven from their homes and villages by conflict leave the camps to seek firewood for their families. As they venture farther and farther from the camp they become vulnerable to attack. This quilt shows a faceless woman symbolizing the universality of her plight yet the faces of her attackers hiding in the brush are not blank. The men’s faces are not blank because those committing these crimes against women must not remain faceless. They must be held accountable for their crimes.
Real peace and security are only possible when women are involved in the peace process, bringing their experiences and needs to the table. Women need to be involved in local and national governments to help conflict from breaking out and to be involved in the peacekeeping process to be certain they are protected and their needs are considered. One woman alone is vulnerable, when many women band together, their voices can be heard.