The Welcome Blanket installation at Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago.
The best part of my work is the synchronicity that occurs without effort. Saying yes to life and enjoying the delight and fulfillment that comes from the sheer willingness to simply be open.
At the beginning of January, I was referred to the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago in their search for a graphic designer to assist them with packaging design, part of the conclusion of their 5-month-long Welcome Blanket installation. They're looking for the best way to package over 3,000 blankets that people around the country were invited to make for newly-settled refugees and immigrants.
Welcome Blanket is a participatory project by the Pussyhat Project's co-founder Jayna Zweiman that confronts issues around immigration and refugee resettlement through a tapestry of handmade blankets. The work explores how political activism can be “positive, creative, and collective.”
Welcome Blanket is a crowd-sourced artistic action that called for over 3,000 blankets to be knit from 3,500,640 yards of yarn, a length equal to the proposed border wall dividing the United States and Mexico. Welcome Blanket invited participants to knit, crochet, or sew the blankets for new immigrants as well as for refugees seeking resettlement and send them with personal notes of welcome and stories of immigration to the Smart Museum of Art.
The project opened on July 18, in an empty gallery in the Museum which was quickly activated as a receiving station to sort and store the blankets. Blankets accumulated in the space over the run of the project, transforming it from a visually sparse site of potential action into a vibrant installation of handmade blankets. Throughout Welcome Blanket, visitors were invited to spend time knitting in the gallery or joining a series of public programs that took place over the fall, creating spaces for conversations around issues of human rights, immigration, and the legacy of artistic activism.
This Spring, the blankets will be distributed in coordination with immigration organizations and refugee resettlement agencies and other community partners around the country. I am humbled to have a small part in getting these love-filled blankets into the hands of thousands of our newest neighbors. Thank you, Jayna, and thank you, Smart Museum of Art!
Welcome Blanket had a wonderful run with their second host MODA (Museum of Design Atlanta). Thank you to each and every person who contributed their time and creativity to the project. We are working with MODA to figure out how to share all the images and information they gathered from Welcome Blanket at the “Making Change” exhibition.
Welcome Blanket is continuing as they line up new host institutions and work on ways to expand. They are also looking for additional partners to build on Welcome Blanket and grow it into an American tradition. So, keep making your gorgeous gifts for our new neighbors and if you are considering making a Welcome Blanket, do!
Currently, Welcome Blankets from the Smart are being distributed to partners across the country.