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 community taught textile artist, 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 legacy of violence by the Chicago Police Department, the impact of incarceration on families, or the relationship between the global slave trade and the textile industry. 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 a name or a place engenders a kind of radical empathy.
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.
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Rachel.a.wallis (at) gmail.com