Water is Life

Water is Life: Clean Water and its Impact on the Lives of Women and Girls around the World

Artists were invited to create quilts that address the issue of clean water and its impact on the lives of women and girls. Jurors selected 41 pieces from artists from seven countries including the U.S., France, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, Israel, and Mexico. “Water is Life” opened at the United Nations’ Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, in March, 2016 to commemorate UN World Water Day. 

The exhibit was organized in partnership with the United States Mission to the United Nations in Geneva and American Exchange Rome. A heartfelt thank you to EQuilter.com and Aurifil Thread for their sponsorship in Europe and Quilter for sponsoring the exhibit at the Houston quilt festival.

The Quilts

To view the quilts, visit the gallery Water is Life.

The Issue

Earth is commonly referred to as the Blue Planet because 71% of its surface is covered with water. However, 97% of that is salt water, and of the remainder – fresh water that can sustain life – more than half is trapped in glaciers and deep ground water. In all, only 1% of all water on Earth is accessible for human consumption.

Water is fast becoming one of our most precious commodities. Just about everything humans do requires water: drinking, growing food, hygiene and health care, industry and transportation.

Population increases in the coming years will place unprecedented stresses on clean water supplies. Adding another 2 billion people to the existing population of over 7 billion by 2050 will intensify the challenges we already face. Two thirds of available fresh water is used to produce food. Humans have drained major water bodies for agriculture – the Indus River, the Aral Sea, the Colorado River – drastically altering the landscape of these regions.

The vital connection between water and climate cannot be ignored. Drought and flood tolerant crops will need to be developed to deal with extreme weather conditions. Melting polar caps are increasing sea levels, affecting coastlines and the large populations that live along them. Extreme weather events such as drought, heavy rainfall leading to flooding and mudslides, and destruction of coastal ground cover and erosion are already stressing coastal populations and leading to dislocation, property loss and disruption of ways of life of millions.

The global nature of water issues require that all nations work together to equitably ensure that the needs of all are balanced and that limited water resources are well managed. Lack of access to consistent, clean sources of water affect women, children, communities and whole populations, requiring holistic, collaborative management, mitigation and planning.

Water is Life at Kean University September 2018
Water is Life at Kean University September 2018

Exhibition Schedule

March 22, 2016   Opening Reception, United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland
September 2016    Frascati Art Gallery, Frascati, Italy
November 3 – 6, 2016 International Quilt Festival, Houston, Texas
February 15 – April 29, 2017   New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts
August 17 – 19, 2017  World Quilt Show, Manchester, New Hampshire
September 14 – 17, 2017   Oaks, Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza
October 12 – 17, 2017   Pacific International Quilt Fest, Santa Clara, California
January 18 – 20, 2018   World Quilt, Orlando, Florida
February 22-25, 2018   MidAtlantic Quilt Festival, Hampton, Virginia
April 26-29, 2018  New Jersey Quilt Fest, Somerset, New Jersey
June 2018 – December 14, 2018  Human Rights Gallery, Kean University, Union, New Jersey

Artist Hollis Chatelain working on her piece Source of Life
Artist Hollis Chatelain working on her piece Source of Life


Jennifer Day, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cherrie Hampton, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Hollis Chatelain, Hillsborough, North Carolina
Deborah Weir, Palos Verdes Peninsula, California
Ann Sanderson, California
Genevere Attinger, Pontivy, France
Susan Charles, New Orleans, Louisiana
Pauline Barrett, Killeen, Texas
Susan Fiorentino, Rome, Italy
Allison Wilbur, Barrington, Rhode Island
Jeanne McAfoos,
Dawn Piasta, Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada
Laura Cooke, Barrington, Rhode Island
Ann L. Scott, San Diego, California
Joan Blade Johnson, Hampton, Connecticut
Phyllis Stephens
Eleanore Levie, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nancy Turbitt, Smithfield, Rhode Island
Gail Sims, Nevada City, California

Bonnie J Smith, San Jose, California
Suzie Haas
Barbara Eisenstein, Bethesda, Maryland
Roxanne Schwartz
Rhonda Leach, Aviston, Illinois
Margaret Becker
Alma Lee Smith, Hampton, Virginia
Lynn Miller, Rochester, New York
Donnette Cooper, Washington, DC
Cathey LaBonte, Moosup, Connecticut
Anita LaHay, Denwood, Alberta, Canada
Yael David-Cohen, London, England
Elinor Sigler, Paris, France
Allyson Allen, Sun City, California
Mary Sawich, Hancock, New Hampshire
Colleen Ansbaugh, Wabeno, Wisconsin
Luana Rubin, Boulder, Colorado
Elizabeth Nacenta de la Croix, Geneva, Switzerland
Lin Schiffner
Ann McBeth and Susan Malen
Carol Howard Donati, Orleans, Ontario, Canada

Luana Rubin of EQuilter.com and her quilt, Rocky Mountain Poison
Luana Rubin of EQuilter.com and her quilt, Rocky Mountain Poison

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