20 years later, Quilt continues to inspire
A vibrant and meticulous undertaking that begin in Williamstown two decades ago is still having an effect on people around the world.
The Quilt Of Belonging-Fibres du monde, stitched together with 11 kilometres of thread, was initiated in 1998 by artist Esther Bryan, who would receive the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal in 2015.
“Twenty years ago we began to make the Quilt, little knowing what lay ahead. But now, as we reflect back on these years, we are in awe at the amazing success and continuing impact of the Quilt,” she writes in a newsletter.
The 120-foot long collaborative textile art project is comprised of 263 blocks portraying the rich cultural legacies of all the First Peoples in Canada and every nation of the world.
“At the Parliament of World Religions’ international conference in Toronto this November, not only was the Quilt mirrored in the wall facing the display, but it perfectly reflected the theme of the event, The Promise of Inclusion, the Power of Love,” Ms. Bryan relates. “We saw afresh the amazing impact of the Quilt, with its vison of “A Place for All.” We are filled with joy, wonder and thankfulness for the blessings the Quilt has experienced -- encouraged to continue our pursuit for peace, hope and love in the world. Thank you to all!”
Over 3 million visitors have seen the Quilt while the Quilt of Belonging companion book is in its fifth printing and the 48-minute documentary is receiving rave reviews.
The artwork is also used in a variety of projects and education programs, creating an impact nationally and around the world. The newsletter includes comments from visitors. “Breath-taking! My heart is overflowing for humanity at such a gorgeous and moving representation of our interwoven threads and symbols,” says one person. Another enthuses: “Gave me God bumps -- this is brilliant. This connects the whole Earth with beauty and peace.”
The Mohawk block from the quilt is included in a new Grade 4 textbook, titled Take Action for Reconciliation: We are the Land. This will be the seventh school text to feature the quilt. Across Canada, schools are using units of study based on the quilt. As a result of highly successful exhibitions during Canada’s 150th birthday last year, the fifth printing of the exhibition catalogue, Quilt of Belonging: The Invitation Project, nearly sold out. A sixth edition of the popular book has been produced. “The continuing success of Quilt of Belonging is a tribute to the many who give of their time, talents and resources. Some have helped since the Quilt began -- the entire 20 years. Others are just new to the project. All are needed! Whether travelling to help at exhibitions, assisting in the office, serving on the board, curating the Quilt between shows, or giving funds, our supporters make it all possible,” the newsletter reads.
3 million people have seen the quilt in person. Making the quilt took six and one half years, from November 1, 1998 to April 1, 2006. Volunteers donated 46,000 hours to make the quilt. The quilt has travelled 89,413 kilometres. 192 countries are represented. 14,800 hours volunteer hours were devoted to research. Length of thread: 4.2 kilometres sewn by machine 6.9 kilometres were sewn by hand. On tour, the work has been seen at 40 exhibitions, 37 in Canada, two in the United States and one in Malaysia.
The website has received over 1 million visits from 168 countires.